Understanding and Commenting on Nutritional Labels for Your Food in the United StatesTuesday, June 03, 2014
Nutrition Labels - most likely you have seen them on many products that you have purchased to eat and learned about them with your dietitian. Did you know that there are proposals for changing the nutrition and supplement labels in the United States? Did you know the comment period for these changes ends June 2, 2014? If you are interested in adding a comment, now is the time. This blog was written for you to get needed information on the proposed changes and how they might help you. I also include some interesting facts for you so you understand the labels. Let’s get started! Perhaps you even want to send in a comment on the changes!
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is proposing changes for nutrition labeling and dietary supplements to help update nutrition information. The possible changes include the following:
• Update the daily reference values and daily intake values to reflect current dietary recommendations
• Update required nutrients that must be posted on the label or those that may be permitted on the label
• Update the way the nutrition facts must be presented on the label
• Establish nutrient references for small children under the age of 4 years and women who are pregnant or lactating. Requirements for foods specifically represented for this group have a proposed change as well.
This is an example of the old version of a label with the current recommendations from our recipe collection. The recipe is for quinoa berry breakfast.
Highlights of changes that are proposed to this label include:
1. Removing the requirement for calories from fat. Presently this is found at the top of the label next to the total calories per serving. The reasoning is that in chronic diseases (including diabetes) the type of fat is more of a problem than the amount of fat. The research done by the FDA found that that this fact had not effects on consumer judgment.
2. An addition would be to include the amount of added sugars. For people with diabetes or pre-diabetes, this should be helpful in evaluating foods bought. You would know the amount of natural sugar vs the amount added to sweeten the product.
3. Vitamins and minerals shown on the label: The current standards (see label at left), require Vitamin A, Vitamin C, calcium and iron to be declared. The proposed change is for mandatory declaration of calcium, iron, vitamin D and potassium. The inclusion of Vitamin A and Vitamin C would be optional. Suboptimal vitamin D levels are associated with many problems including glucose metabolism disorders. (1) People with diabetes and kidney disease, may need to monitor the amount of potassium consumed. This addition would be very beneficial. For more information on kidney disease and potassium visit kidney.org.
4. The amount of sodium that given for percentage of daily value (DV) may be changed from 2,400 milligrams per day to 2,300 milligrams per day. The American Diabetes Association Recommends that people with diabetes not exceed 2,300 mg of sodium per day. It is recommended that if you have diabetes and high blood pressure that you do not exceed 1,500 mg per day of sodium. (2) If you need to be mindful of sodium, it is important to know the DV that is referenced on the label.
5. The look of the label has suggested changes. The values for calories per serving and servings per container will be much bigger and easier to read. Example: if you have 2 servings per container with 100 calories per serving and you eat the whole container of food, you ate 2 x 100 calories or 200 calories. The nutrients and calories on the label are per serving size, not the whole container.
6. The percentage DV will be moved to the left of the label to make it easier to read.
7. Referencing the values for nutrients on the label for 2000 and 2500 calorie diets will be evaluated during the rulemaking process to see how consumers understand the food label. These facts are at the bottom of the current label.
8. The proposal also includes a mandate that manufacturers keep records that can verify nutrient amounts listed for non-digestible carbohydrates that are not dietary fiber, foods that contain more than one source of sugar, added sugars that my undergo fermentation, and forms of vitamin E, folate and folic acid. (Folate and folic acid are B vitamins. Folate naturally occurs in our food and folic acid is the synthetic form of the same vitamin.) These records must be made available to the FDA if requested.
?To read more about all of these changes and to see an example of a label that is modified to represent the proposed changes visit the Federal Register website.
If you would like to participate and make comments on the changes visit regulations.gov. The changes appear beneficial for people with diabetes or those trying to prevent diabetes. It is always nice to have the opportunity to participate in the process for making changes!