New FDA Nutrition Labels will Confuse Consumer, Experts say

FDA has recently revamped food labels where calories are written in bold letters, which will help consumers assess the health benefits of what they will consume. However, expert says that the new nutrition labels will lead to a bigger problem, such as consuming food that cannot provide the needed energy an individual needs to perform better.

2 decades ago, FDA released nutrition labels to decrease life-threatening diseases that can be acquired through unhealthy diet. Unfortunately, their drive fails to provide huge improvements.

Richard Williams, former chief economist of the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition in 1993 said, “We thought we would see about 40,000 fewer cases of cancer and heart disease over the next 20 years and prevent 13,000 deaths. Sadly, as nearly a quarter of a century of experience has revealed, pretty much none of that occurred.”

To provide solution to the problem, FDA changed the labels to this:

FDA Nutrition Facts
The new design highlights the calorie count per serving. It also features added sugar and suggested amount for serving. With all these information, consumers can efficiently assess if what they are buying can provide them their needed nutrients.

But wait, experts were calling out FDA’s attention as these new labels can turn out sour in the long run. Although knowing calorie and sugar content can be helpful, consumers should not just rely on these as they should also learn to check the ingredients.

With the new label, people will surely choose products that have low-calorie content. As what James Hamblin has written on The Atlantic, “[calories] tell us nothing other than, if we were to set fire to this food, how much energy would be released?”

Calories’ benefits in weight loss are not yet proven effective. In fact, consuming “real food” is preferable. Low-calorie food, most often processed and considered as junk food, are made to make us crave for more, therefore, our consumption can drastically increase, breaking our health improvement goals.

Another issue that experts looked at is the sugar content. Added sugar typically refers to table or cane sugar. Since food manufacturers would like to lessen (or sometimes completely eliminate) the amount on the nutrition label, they can use fruit sugars. With that, the label will immediately alter the amount to “no added sugar.” However, there is no ample medical proof about the benefits fruit sugar can impose to someone’s health compared to cane sugar.

“They will add apple juice or agave to everything that kids (especially kids) eat, and then their product will technically have no ‘added sugars’ even when they have a lot of added sugars,” writes Hamblin.

Another change that transpired on the nutrition label was the serving size. If you will thoroughly assess, the previous serving size is too little compared to what we actually consume. The new label will realistically increase, therefore, huge calorie content differences may be seen on products.

We are still unsure how this new nutrition label changes by FDA will impact the consumers. But we are hoping that people will be more careful in choosing the products they buy, not just by checking the label but also by checking the ingredients. Also, one should learn the needed amount of calorie one needs to ensure that appropriate amount of energy will be produced.