Major overhaul ahead for food labels

Posted at 7:47 AM, Feb 27, 2014
and last updated 2014-02-27 19:08:35-05

(WTVR) -- Changes are coming to your food labels.

In a White House Event Thursday, First Lady Michelle Obama revealed new label requirements for food products - impacting serving size, calorie, count, and sugar and vitamin intake.

"We are overhauling these labels to make them easier to read and understand," the First Lady said.

Calorie count will be in bold labels with a large font size with new lines created for added sugars and Vitamin D.

"I think it is a really great step," Lindsay Kluge, a licensed nutritionist at Elwood Thompson's in Richmond, said.

Kluge says separating natural sugars with added sugars can help reduce obesity.

"That is going to start educating people of what naturally is occurring and what they are adding in the industry," Kluge said.

Kluge also believes placing a line for Vitamin D will help address a growing Vitamin D deficiency problem among Americans.

There is a bit of controversy, as some in the food industry have argued against similar changes in the past, saying it's unfair to highlight sugar.

The changes won't go into effect just yet as there will be a 90-day comment period. However the changes could be implemented as early as next year.

The new rules are redesigned to make it clearer for Americans to know how many calories they are consuming.

The labeling will also take into account how some foods are consumed in one sitting.

For example, the serving sizes for a bottle of soda will go from 8 ounces to 12 ounces. And the serving size for ice cream will increase from ½ cup to 1 cup. For yogurt, the serving size will be reduced from 8 ounces to 6.

The FDA estimates it will cost $2 billion for the food industry to implement the changes over the next couple years.

The Grocery Manufacturers Association issued the following statement from President and CEO Pamela G. Bailey in response to today’s announcement by First Lady Michelle Obama of proposed updates to the Nutrition Facts label on food packages:

“We welcome First Lady Michelle Obama’s announcement of the proposed updates to the Nutrition Facts panel and thank her for her leadership on this and broader health issues.  The nation could not ask for a more thoughtful, effective or passionate advocate than Michelle Obama.

“For 20 years, the Nutrition Facts panel has been an invaluable tool to help consumers build more healthful diets for themselves and their families, and the time is right for an update.

“Diets, eating patterns and consumer preferences have changed dramatically since the Nutrition Facts were first introduced.  Just as food and beverage manufacturers have responded by creating more than 20,000 healthier product choices since 2002, and by providing tools like Facts Up Front front-of-pack labels, the FDA is responding with a thoughtful review of the Nutrition Facts panel.

“We look forward to working with the FDA and other stakeholders as these proposed updates to the Nutrition Facts label make their way through the rule making process.

“It is critical that any changes are based on the most current and reliable science.  Equally as important is ensuring that any changes ultimately serve to inform, and not confuse, consumers.”