New Nutrition Labels Will Make You Feel Guilty

The FDA wants to make sure you can’t miss calorie amounts on food labels. But will that change your eating habits?

National Journal
Brian Resnick
Feb. 27, 2014, 2:35 a.m.

(FDA / via CBS)First lady Michelle Obama and the Food and Drug Ad­min­is­tra­tion are set to an­nounce new food la­beling reg­u­la­tions Thursday, the fi­nal product of which you can see here. 

The la­bel on the left re­flects the cur­rent design. The la­bel on the right is new. Aside from a much clean­er over­all present­a­tion, it’s clear what the new design is in­ten­ded to do: make you see the cal­or­ies both in a serving and in the en­tire pack­age of food. 

The new la­bels also add the cat­egory “ad­ded sug­ars,” which are defined as any sug­ars that aren’t nat­ur­ally found in fruit. This may prove to be con­tro­ver­sial, as some will ar­gue that sug­ar is sug­ar no mat­ter the form.  Oth­ers will point out that ad­ded sug­ars, and not fruit sug­ars, are the more closely cor­rel­ated with dia­betes and heart dis­ease. Like­wise, “cal­or­ies from fat” will not ap­pear on the new la­bels to not dis­tract from the types of fat (sat­ur­ated, trans), which are more mean­ing­ful meas­ures of a food’s health wor­thi­ness. 

Along with the la­bels come new reg­u­la­tions for serving sizes. They will now be based on what people “ac­tu­ally eat.” No longer will a serving of ice cream be half a cup (come on, do you really stop scoop­ing after ex­actly half a cup?). It will be a cup (which, let’s be hon­est, is still kind of small). As Re­u­ters re­ports, “The num­ber of cal­or­ies in a serving of Ben & Jerry’s Chubby Hubby ice cream, for ex­ample, would be about 660 in­stead of the cur­rent 330.” That’s 100 cal­or­ies more than a Big Mac. Fam­ily-sized foods such as potato chips must have two nu­tri­tion columns: one for in­di­vidu­al servings, and one for “yeah, you’re go­ing to eat this whole bag of chips alone.”

The food in­dustry is sure to fight back. The an­nounce­ment of the new la­bels starts a 90-day peri­od for pub­lic com­ment, to which the FDA can re­spond to and change the design. The Wash­ing­ton Post re­ports the pro­cess could take a year. Then, the la­bels (which will cost the food in­dustry $2 bil­lion) will be phased in over the next three years. 

The FDA’s own re­cent re­search found that in­creas­ing the font size of the cal­or­ies alone did not “im­prove par­ti­cipant’s com­pre­hen­sion over the cur­rent la­bel.” What it did find more con­clus­ively was that to de­crease the amount of servings in a pack­age (and thereby in­crease the per serving cal­or­ies), “caused the par­ti­cipants to rate the products as be­ing less health­ful.”

Changes aside, the new la­bels still don’t ad­dress some of the fun­da­ment­al prob­lems with the older nu­tri­tion fact la­bels, such as the fact that the FDA al­lows for a 20 per­cent mar­gin of er­ror when it comes to cal­cu­lat­ing cal­or­ies. And only time and re­search can tell if the la­bels work as they are de­signed to — that is, change con­sumer be­ha­vi­or, and thereby quell the obesity epi­dem­ic. 

What We're Following See More »
UTAH REPUBLICAN
Former Sen. Bob Bennett Dies at 82
6 hours ago
THE DETAILS

Former Utah Republican Sen. Bob Bennett died of pancreatic cancer on Wednesday after a long battle with pancreatic cancer. Bennett was defeated in a primary in 2010 by Tea Party–backed Mike Lee.

Source:
GOOGLE SEARCHES SPIKE
Libertarians Getting a Second Look?
12 hours ago
WHY WE CARE
VEEPSTAKES
Trump Floats Gingrich, Kasich as Running Mates
13 hours ago
THE LATEST

Newt Gringrich is actively positioning himself as a possible VP nominee for Donald Trump, according to National Review. After a New York Times piece mentioned him as a possible running mate, he said, "It is an honor to be mentioned. We need a new Contract with America to outline a 100-day plan to take back Washington from the lobbyists, bureaucrats, unions, and leftists. After helping in 1980 with Reagan and 1995 as speaker I know we have to move boldly and decisively before the election results wear off and the establishment starts fighting us. That is my focus." Meanwhile, Trump told CNN he'd be "interested in vetting" John Kasich as well.

NO MORE CUTS
House Dems Push on Puerto Rico, Citing Zika
14 hours ago
THE LATEST

"House Democrats are stepping up pressure on Republicans to advance legislation addressing Puerto Rico’s worsening debt crisis by issuing a report arguing that austerity cuts can’t be sustained and have made the island more vulnerable to the mosquito-borne Zika virus." Democrats on the House Natural Resources Committee released a report yesterday that argued "further sharp reductions in government spending can’t be a part of a legislative solution"—especially with a rainy season boosting the mosquito population and stressing an island health system already struggling to deal with the Zika virus.

Source:
WILL ANNOUNCE PICK BEFORE CONVENTION
Trump to Name VP Search Committee
15 hours ago
THE LATEST

"Donald J. Trump said on Wednesday that he expected to reveal his vice presidential pick sometime in July—before the Republican National Convention in Cleveland—but added that he would soon announce a committee to handle the selection process, which would include Dr. Ben Carson." He said he's inclined to name a traditional political figure, unlike himself.

Source:
×