CNN

FDA to test out nutrition labels on the front of food packaging

Jun 21, 2023, 10:28 AM

...

(CNN) — The United States Food and Drug Administration will test out labels on the front of food packages in the hope of giving shoppers better access to nutrition information, the agency said.

The goal is to address diet-related chronic disease by “empowering consumers with nutrition information to help them more easily identify healthier choices and encouraging industry innovation to produce healthier foods,” the FDA said in a recent regulatory filing.

The agency hopes to enact new regulations on labels by December, according to the filing.

Front of package labels would complement — not replace — traditional nutrition facts labels, with the intention of helping people with less nutritional knowledge identify foods that would be part of a healthy eating pattern, the FDA said in a June 14 statement.

Nutrition might not be clear at a glance

Most people don’t have enough nutritional knowledge to get the information they need easily from nutrition facts labels, said Natalie Mokari, a dietitian based in Charlotte, North Carolina.

“People are very familiar with looking at the calorie content, but that’s about the extent of it,” Mokari said. But when it comes to important nutrients like fiber and protein, the average consumer might not know exactly what to be looking for, she added.

Alice Lichtenstein, professor of nutrition science and policy at Tufts University, agreed that sorting out the facts about a food’s nutritional value is complicated.

“Nutrition information is complex and fraught with a considerable amount of misinformation and disinformation,” Lichtenstein said. “Someone doing a web search for information about a food will likely see a considerable amount of conflicting information. It is unlikely they will have the skills to sort the wheat from the chaff.”

What the new food labels should say

It’s not yet clear what the labels on the front of food packaging might say, but some types of information might be more helpful than others, Morkari said.

Noting that a food is “fat free,” for example, may lead some people to think a particular food is a healthy choice, when in fact fat is an important macronutrient, she said.

A person might see that one food is labeled as having lower calories than another, but not take into consideration the protein and fiber, which may be a better indicator of what would be a healthier choice for that person, she added.

It’s even more difficult if someone has a specific health concern or doctor-prescribed restrictions, since they might not have an easy time getting the micronutrient information for the food they are buying, Mokari said.

“Hopefully, before the system is finalized, there (will) be a considerable amount of testing to determine how different subgroups of the population interpret the information, particularly with different levels of health literacy,” Lichtenstein said.

What to do in the meantime

Although eating patterns can be highly individualized — and some with specific health concerns should consult their doctors and dietitians — there are ways to balance people’s nutritional needs and desires.

The Mediterranean diet, which has been named the best diet for healthy eating for the sixth year in a row, could spark some ideas.

This non-restrictive style of eating focuses on simple, plant-based cooking, with the majority of each meal focused on fruits and vegetables, whole grains, beans and seeds, with a few nuts and a heavy emphasis on extra-virgin olive oil. Fats other than olive oil, such as butter, are consumed rarely, if at all, and sugar and refined foods are reserved for special occasions.

The Mediterranean diet has also been linked to stronger bones, a healthier heart and longer life, and it can reduce the risk for diabeteshigh cholesteroldementiamemory lossdepression and breast cancer.

Another benefit of Mediterranean eating: It emphasizes social meals and mindful enjoyment of your favorite foods.

Sign up for CNN’s Eat, But Better: Mediterranean Style. Our eight-part guide shows you a delicious expert-backed eating lifestyle that will boost your health for life.


The-CNN-Wire™ & © 2023 Cable News Network, Inc., a Warner Bros. Discovery Company. All rights reserved.

KSL 5 TV Live

CNN

Sen. Bob Menendez, pictured leaving Manhattan federal court on July 16, will resign his seat effect...

Laura Dolan, Lauren Fox and Clare Foran, CNN

Bob Menendez will resign his US Senate seat effective August 20

Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey will resign his seat effective August 20, according to a copy of his resignation letter obtained by CNN.

1 hour ago

(Harris delegates)...

Ethan Cohen, Molly English, Matt Holt and Sydney Topf, CNN

Harris secures enough delegate endorsements to clinch Democratic nomination

Kamala Harris has the support of enough Democratic delegates to win the party’s nomination for president, according to CNN’s delegate estimate.

19 hours ago

People wait in line at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport on July 20 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Me...

Dalia Faheid and Lauren Mascarenhas, CNN

More than 1,500 US flights canceled for the third day straight as airlines slowly recover from global tech outage

More than 1,500 US flights have been canceled for the third day straight, as airlines struggle to recover from a global tech outage that left thousands of passengers stranded at airports.

2 days ago

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee waits for the House speaker to arrive for a bill enrollment signing ceremon...

Michelle Shen, CNN

Sheila Jackson Lee, long-serving Democratic congresswoman and advocate for Black Americans, dies at 74

Sheila Jackson Lee, a longtime Democratic congresswoman from Texas who was an outspoken advocate for Black Americans for decades, has died. She was 74.

3 days ago

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a warning Friday about a deadly multistate...

Jen Christensen, CNN

Two dead in multistate listeria outbreak linked with sliced deli meat, CDC says

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a warning Friday about a deadly multistate listeria outbreak connected to deli meat.

3 days ago

An aerial view shows law enforcement members at the home of Thomas Matthew Crooks in Bethel Park, P...

John Miller and Shania Shelton, CNN

Investigators believe Trump’s would-be assassin flew a drone over rally site on the day of the shooting

Investigators believe the gunman who attempted to assassinate former President Donald Trump may have used a drone on a reconnaissance trip to the rally site on the day of the shooting, a law enforcement official familiar with the investigation told CNN.

3 days ago

Sponsored Articles

young male technician is repairing a printer at office...

Les Olson

Unraveling the dilemma between leasing and buying office technology

Carefully weigh these pros and cons to make an informed decision that best suits your business growth and day-to-day operation. 

A kitchen in a modern farmhouse....

Lighting Design

A room-by-room lighting guide for your home

Bookmark this room-by-room lighting guide whenever you decide to upgrade your lighting or style a new home.

Photo courtesy of Artists of Ballet West...

Ballet West

The rising demand for ballet tickets: why they’re harder to get

Ballet West’s box office is experiencing demand they’ve never seen before, leaving many interested patrons unable to secure tickets they want.

Electrician repairing ceiling fan with lamps indoors...

Lighting Design

Stay cool this summer with ceiling fans

When used correctly, ceiling fans help circulate cool and warm air. They can also help you save on utilities.

Side view at diverse group of children sitting in row at school classroom and using laptops...

PC Laptops

5 internet safety tips for kids

Read these tips about internet safety for kids so that your children can use this tool for learning and discovery in positive ways.

Women hold card for scanning key card to access Photocopier Security system concept...

Les Olson

Why printer security should be top of mind for your business

Connected printers have vulnerable endpoints that are an easy target for cyber thieves. Protect your business with these tips.

FDA to test out nutrition labels on the front of food packaging