The US Food and Drug Administration came out on May 20’th with a new template for food labels. The biggest change is the addition of a line for “added sugar” below a line for total sugar. Plus, calorie counts will be shown in large letters, and portion sizes will reflect how much Americans actually eat.
Some sugars are naturally found in foods, like fruit or milk. But there are lots of added sugars, beside table sugar, which are hidden in processed foods. Many people don’t know that sugar is also found in many sauces, soups, fruit juices and even meat products.
A team of researchers at the University of North Carolina conducted one survey on the packaged foods that are purchased in American grocery stores and found that 60% of them include some form of added sugar.
Different Food Labels for Added Sugar
The F.D.A. requires a new line to be included under “Total Sugars.” Called “Includes X g Added Sugars,” the new line will help consumers to understand how much sugar has been added to the product.
Why is it necessary to have a specific food label with an extra line for added sugar? Because many food manufacturers use, instead of “sugar”, different words for products that are nutritionally similar. Maybe you heard about high-fructose corn syrup, maple, and agave syrup, or honey, but there are many others added sugars you haven’t heard of. For example, maltose, rice syrup, treacle, drimol, or dextrose.
Some natural foods also include ingredients like “apple juice concentrate”, which still means hidden sugar.
Therefore, the amount of added sugars will be visible when the labels are updated.
“By putting added sugars on the label, it creates incentives for industry to make healthier products, because they don’t want to look bad with all of that sugar on the label,” Dr. David Kessler, the former F.D.A. commissioner, said.
Many companies opposed the idea of a separate line for added sugars. The Sugar Association said it was “disappointed” by the F.D.A.’s decision to require a separate line for added sugars. It argued that the rule lacked “scientific justification,” according to Nytimes.com.
The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends limiting the amount of added sugars you consume to no more than half of your daily discretionary calories allowance. For most American women, that means about 6 teaspoons of sugar per day. For men, it’s about 9 teaspoons per day.
More realistic portion sizes
Another change on the new food labels is that the calories and the portion sizes will be in large bold letters and numbers, and easier to spot.
The portions will also be adapted to reality. The current food labels are based on eating habits and nutrition data from the ‘70s and ’80s. That was before portion sizes expanded significantly.
According to the US Food and Drug Administration, what’s considered a single serving has changed in the decades since the original nutrition label was created. So now serving sizes will be more realistic in order to reflect how much people usually eat during one meal. Some serving sizes will increase and others will decrease because, by law, the serving sizes must be based on the amount of food and drink that people typically consume, not on how much they should consume. For example, a single ice cream serving is two-thirds of a cup, compared with the current half cup.
Most food manufacturers will be required to use the new label by July 2018. Smaller companies, with less than $10 million in annual food sales, will have an additional year to comply.