Food labelling in the United States is set to undergo significant changes in how nutritional information is presented.
The change looks to address current understanding of the effect different areas of the diet have on risks of developing obesity and long term health conditions such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
The changes to food labelling include the following:
Calorie counts made clearer
Added sugars to be declared
Change to serving sizes
Calories from fat will be removed
A change as to which vitamin will need to be labelled
Under the proposed changes, calorie counts will be both larger and in bolder type. Along with this, serving sizes will be increased to better reflect the nutritional values most people will be getting from servings. As an example, a serving of ice cream will be raised from ½ cup to 1 cup. 1 cup of ice cream is equivalent to around 4 scoops of ice cream.
Under the plans, added sugars will need to be declared. This will see all sorts of foods, from fruit juice to soups to bread and ready meals all needing to be transparent about the sugars that have been artificially added in processing.
In terms of fats, the total calories from fat will no longer need to be show, reflecting the fact that not all fats are inherently bad for health. The breakdown of fat content into unsaturated, saturated and the more harmful trans fats (hydrogenated fats) will remain a key part of nutrition labels.
In terms of vitamins, the requirement to have levels of vitamins A and C listed will be replaced by vitamin D and the level of the mineral potassium.
The changes largely seem to be positive and the shift from the focus on fats, which occur naturally in a significant number of foods, to added sugars, which are a direct result of food processing, is a step forward for the US. Other countries, such as Britain will be interested to follow the effects the change in labelling has.
Currently the UK lists the quantity of sugars in food but does not distinguish between which sugars are naturally present and which are added.