FDA wants to shock consumers with nutritional information

Related tags Fda Nutrition

Earlier this year the US government said it wanted food companies
to be clearer about the information displayed on product labels,
now the FDA has suggested they should note the percentage of daily
recommended calories the product contains.

A FDA proposal, expected to be released next month, would tell food manufacturers for the first time to list this information on packages, according to Reuters.

The purpose would be to "shock you and tell you (that) you have consumed 50 percent of your daily calories,"​ Dr Lester Crawford, acting FDA Commissioner, is said to have stated at a meeting of the FDA Science Board on Friday.

In March this year Dr Laura Tarantino of the FDA sent a letter to food producers saying that the government body intended to re-evaluate the flexibility of the serving size regulations and warned it would take action against any company disobeying the rules. "The FDA encourages the food industry to review its nutrition information and ensure that the serving size declared is appropriate for the commodity in question,"​ said the letter.

Since then, several food companies have announced measures that will make the information on their products more in line with the government's suggestions.

Last month, for example, Kraft Foods announced new labels, to be used on a number of products that contain between two and four servings, that will include figures for calories, fat, cholesterol and sodium for the whole contents of the package as well as one serving, something which is missing on many package labels.

Kraft's senior vice president, Lance Friedman, said that the company's new policy embraced FDA guidelines. "With Kraft 'doing the math' for them, people can instantly see just what they'll be consuming if they choose to eat the entire contents of the package,"​ he said.

Friedman also claimed that research shows consumers want the extra information because it "puts the choice of portion size in their hands and gives them the information they need to make sure it's an informed choice"​.

Coca-Cola and PepsiCo also recently announced that they had decided the time was right to comply with FDA recommendations. From the end of this year Coca-Cola North America and Pepsi-Cola will start rolling out 20 ounce bottles with more detailed nutritional labeling.

The modified packaging labels will provide expanded nutritional information - including calories, fat, sodium, carbohydrates, sugars and protein - to help consumers choose the beverages that are right for them, according to the company.

At present the bottles only show information for eight ounces and indicate the total number of servings per package. The FDA has recommended that all food and drink manufacturers revise their labeling for products that can be consumed at one time.

The companies said the new packaging will be found on shelves across the US as soon as bottlers use up existing inventories of old style labels.

An Associated Press-IPSOS poll carried out in May found that 30 percent of Americans consider overeating the nation's top health problem, but just 12 percent said they were dieting.

Related topics Regulation & policy

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