Monday, May 3, 2010

Updating Nutrition Labels

It was only 20 years ago that we began seeing uniform nutrition labels on processed food products telling us how many calories, how much fat and sugar, and what nutrients are in the food we eat.

But many health groups believe it's time to update nutrition labels. I agree that it's time to give consumers information in a way that is useful and helps people make healthy choices. In this week's Time, the Center for Science in the Public Interest suggested a few updates for the Nutrition Facts label.

One suggestion was to make "unhealthy" content like sugar and fat stand out using different colored text. I think that this could be misleading, given that not all fat is bad for you and it could lead to making less healthy choices. However, I love the idea of having the calorie count (per serving and per package) displayed clearly on the packaging. This is particularly important for beverages and "snack" foods -- like those $.99 chips or peanuts that are usually 2.5-3 servings and many more calories that people probably realize!

I would make it easier to read nutrition labels by changing words such as "sodium" to "salt". Hopefully innovators will see this as an opportunity to create a change in a space that will affect millions of peoples' food choices over the next few decades and will get involved.

How would you change the nutrition label?

1 comment:

Kelsey Woodruff said...

I would definitely make the serving sizes the amount someone might actually eat. For instance, for a can or bottle of soda or drink, it should always be for the whole bottle. Or a pack of chips, like in your example, should include the whole package.

I agree with your assessment that making sugar and fat standout could discourage the consumption of good fat or natural sugars. Also, many times that natural fat is taken out, unnatural substitutes are added. We would want to encourage the consumption of whole and natural foods, which do have some fat and sugar.