FDA to require new

By Christina Williams
April 7, 2005

Cecelia Francisco

We presently live in a time where most people are very health conscious and many people are checking their labels for calories, fat content and carbohydrates. However, sometimes those labels can be confusing for consumers so there has been a request for the Food and Drug Administration to make things a little easier.

One of the most common problems with reading labels is the serving size and how many servings are in the entire package. Most labels will give a serving size but the whole package will contain about four of the serving size.

People will usually do one of two things when it comes to figuring out their calorie intake. People will either neglect to multiply the serving size by what they actually intake. The other common mistake people will make is they will underestimate their intake as a result of confusion because of the serving size.

A perfect example would be a box of Pop Secret popcorn. There are three individual packs of popcorn in the box but the label says the serving size is three tablespoons. This means that all of the nutritional information provided on the side of the box is if the consumer eats three tablespoons of popcorn and not for each individual bag.

Based on the serving size if the consumer eats the whole bag of popcorn they are eating about three servings. So, if there are 180 calories in three tablespoons of popcorn and the consumer eats the whole bag they are actually eating 540 calories.

One reason the FDA is being asked to clarify labels is to hopefully cut down on the growing number of people who are obese. In a report done by the FDA, it shows that weight control is a function of caloric balance, so hopefully a clear and easy presentation of how many calories are actually in the package as a whole will help.

The FDA currently requires the calories from fat to be listed on the label, however that was set in place at a time where low fat diets were recommended. There is talk of no longer requiring calories from fat and just putting the amount of calories either on the front of the box or in a large type.

The second reason the FDA is being asked to change labels is because studies show that people are eating more. The current food serving sizes where established about 20 years ago. The larger portions being consumed is just another reason as to why the FDA is being asked to change the serving sizes on the labels to reflect a more accurate serving size.

In an article that appeared on CNN’s website, Robert Earl, senior director for nutrition policy at the Food Products Association, says that currently labels are aimed to reduce heart risk even though obesity prevention is a current health concern.

Although, even if the FDA decides to change the food labels there could still be some confusion. For example, if the serving sizes are changed to give the nutritional information for the product as a whole there may have to be disclaimers saying that large amounts of consumption are not recommend by the government.

If the FDA does change the labels there are hoping it will help consumers choose healthier foods and will then in turn cut down on obesity. Even though the FDA seems to be positive about the new changes, there are those out there who feel that these changes will not decrease the number of those who are obese. The FDA is currently taking comments on a solution to these problems.

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Christina Williams

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