In May of 2016, the Food and Drug Administration announced that the nutrition facts labels on all packaged food have been redesigned, and that most food manufacturers must switch over to this new design by July of 2018. Smaller companies, those with less than $10 million in sales per year, will have until 2020 to meet the guidelines. With July coming up fast, many manufacturers have voluntarily made the switch early.
When comparing nutrition facts labels from older and newer packaged foods, one would find that many of the newer packages already include the modified labels. These new labels feature larger, bolded text displaying calorie count and serving size. The main change to the label is that in addition to grams of sugar, the manufacturer must also specify how much sugar has been added to the product. This is intended to raise public awareness of the immense amounts of sugar being added to foods and drinks, and aid in the fight against America’s obesity crisis.
According to the FDA’s website, the added sugar label is important because it has become increasingly hard to meet the requirements for daily nutrients while staying within the recommended 2,000 Calories per day. This is mostly due to added sugars, and the hope is that consumers will be less inclined to buy products with a lot of added sugars, and companies will be discouraged from adding too much sugar to their foods. The more prominent serving size featured on the new labeling will also make it harder for companies to divide up one package of food into small serving sizes, which currently allows them to display a much smaller calorie count per serving size on the package.
Despite the many companies accepting this new regulation, many others are fighting against it. The National Sugar Association has fought the idea of an added sugar label for years through articles posted on their website which list true, but often misleading facts about sugar and sugar consumption. One such article states that in one teaspoon of pure sucrose, there are only 15 Calories. The article continues on to state that whether it be 15 Calories of sugar or 15 Calories of any other nutrient, neither is more fattening than the other due to the identical calorie count. While this is true, it is also misleading as it does not address the fact that the sugar is more energy dense. 15 Calories worth of sugar is much smaller in terms of physical volume than 15 Calories worth of most other nutrients.
Once fully enforced, the new labels should raise awareness about health and the excess of sugar being added to food products, helping to clear up some of the confusion perpetuated by companies like the National Sugar Association.
Jack Comiskey // Staff Writer