How Food Labels Are Changing (and Why Some Companies Don't Like It)
When the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) first proposed changes to the "nutrition facts" label in February, it was great news for many consumers. After all, the current labels don't always reflect how people really eat—like a 20-ounce soda listing calories in an 8-ounce serving, not the entire bottle.
Still, there's one potential change drawing resistance from food manufacturers: the listing of added sugar. That is, sugar that doesn't occur naturally in food.
As early as August, some food companies began speaking out against the FDA's new stance on sugar. The director of regulatory affairs and nutrition for Campbell Soup Company told Reuters, "Giving consumers a false impression that reducing added sugars without reducing calories may actually delay finding a real solution to the problem" of obesity.
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But it seems that added sugar intake alone is a health problem: A study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that an average diet in the U.S. contains enough added sugar to up the risk of heart-related death by nearly 20%. And that risk is more than doubled for the 10% of Americans who already get a quarter of their daily calories from added sugar, said the study's lead author.
The good thing about the FDA's proposed changes is that more people would be able to tell just how much added sugar they're consuming by looking at the label.
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While the opportunity to submit comments on the proposed labels directly to the FDA has passed, there's a Change.org petition from the American Heart Association addressed to FDA Commissioner Margret Hamburg you can sign in favor of the new changes, including support for listing added sugar on food labels. It has more than 11,000 supporters already but is still in need of "signatures" from a little over 3,800 people.
It's one step you can take to make your voice heard before the changes are set in stone.