Green Room

Nutritional labels get a facelift; media very, very impressed

posted at 12:37 pm on February 27, 2014 by

Politico says, “FLOTUS goes big on food label changes“:

The Obama administration has unveiled the most sweeping update to nutrition labeling on food packages in more than two decades — and Americans are in for a reality check about how many calories and how much sugar they are consuming.

What’s considered a serving size would get larger, the type used to display calories would get bolder and added sugars would have to be listed on about 700,000 consumer products — from cereal to energy drinks — in a proposal released Thursday morning by the Food and Drug Administration.

CBS says that labels are “finally undergoing a makeover,” and that it’s really sciencey:

Nutrition fact labels are finally undergoing a makeover. The Food and Drug Administration has proposed new changes to labels on food packaging that are aimed at making them easier to understand — the first major update since about 1994.

Under the changes, serving sizes will be made easier to understand, calories will be featured more prominently and for the first time, added sugars will be included.

The label updates aim to incorporate the new science that has since come out on how eating foods might raise risk for obesity and chronic disease, according to the FDA. For example, old labels focused more on fats, but calorie consumption is what really drives weight gain and obesity, researchers have since determined.

“Our guiding principle here is very simple: that you as a parent and a consumer should be able to walk into your local grocery store, pick up an item off the shelf, and be able to tell whether it’s good for your family,” said First Lady Michelle Obama. “So this is a big deal, and it’s going to make a big difference for families all across this country.”

Er, sure. Want to see the makeover? CBS has the side-by-side comparison:

nutritional-labels

It’s not the Titanic, but it’s really just rearranging deck chairs. It’s not providing any new information except “added sugars,” which isn’t all that different nutritionally from overall sugars. It leaves out the RDA information, at least for the moment. This is the least-caloric nothingburger one can imagine, and yet this is all over the news today.

By the way, has anyone ever checked to see whether having this information — as good as it is, and I do use it myself — actually has an impact on obesity? Because it certainly doesn’t with calorie counts on restaurant menus.

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Meh. I’d rather eat pizza three times a day for 25 years than read a bunch of pansy-ass labels.

Galtian on February 27, 2014 at 12:41 PM

FLOTUS goes big

Not exactly breaking news.

Wendya on February 27, 2014 at 12:53 PM

Well now that we solved that tremendous crisis of too small of text on nutrition labels, guess we can move on to improving the economy and reducing dependency on social programs…

Oh wait…I forgot about the other most pressing needs of this country: free abortions, legal pot and the right for gays to be married in churches. Once we solve those, THEN we can move on to the economy and other low priority matters.

nextgen_repub on February 27, 2014 at 12:58 PM

Because the reason people are ignoring the calorie counts now is because they can’t read them. Riiiiiiiiiiiight……

GWB on February 27, 2014 at 1:04 PM

These labels are nothing more than nanny-state tyranny.

Pablo Honey on February 27, 2014 at 1:18 PM

And this all important revision probably cost the taxpayer about a billion dollars with the dozens of meetings involving hundreds of bureaucrats , the research and focus groups, the advertising of such change, the paperwork, training of some inspector to this “new system”, etc….I am sure it goes on.

Gosh this makes me so mad.

tommer74 on February 27, 2014 at 1:20 PM

The agency had been working on the proposed changes for a decade, Taylor said at the time.

Federal government at its finest. 10 years to come up with this!! So my estimate of billion dollars is probably way off. Someone please tell me they started it and then shelved it for 9 years.

tommer74 on February 27, 2014 at 1:29 PM

By the way, has anyone ever checked to see whether having this information — as good as it is, and I do use it myself — actually has an impact on obesity?

It won’t help at all until the government mandated daily calorie limits are imposed.

Cyhort on February 27, 2014 at 1:33 PM

You can’t force education on someone who doesn’t care enough to be educated.

“If they only knew what I know” doesn’t convert anyone.
Doesn’t work in school.
Doesn’t work in changing political beliefs.
Doesn’t work in lifestyle changes.

AeroSpear on February 27, 2014 at 1:37 PM

The bottom line is that every company involved in food production will have to spend MONEY to accommodate the new label.

lilacs on February 27, 2014 at 2:14 PM

This is important to keep Michelle’s face in the news, Her ego and her future political career demands it.

Techster64 on February 27, 2014 at 2:24 PM

Whatever. In theory I suppose if they’re wasting time on this stuff it gives them just a little less time to really mess something else up.

The calorie counts on menus HAS TO GO. It has made menus at fast food places very hard to read. Frankly, it just makes me pick the most calories possible as a personal challenge…

tyketto on February 27, 2014 at 2:25 PM

Whatever. In theory I suppose if they’re wasting time on this stuff it gives them just a little less time to really mess something else up.

tyketto on February 27, 2014 at 2:25 PM

You obviously don’t know how budgeting works at regulatory agencies.

GWB on February 27, 2014 at 3:15 PM

The “Calories from fat” is gone too. So, you can’t as easily calculate the percentage of fat in the item.

HakerA on February 27, 2014 at 3:21 PM

Federal government at its finest. 10 years to come up with this!! So my estimate of billion dollars is probably way off. Someone please tell me they started it and then shelved it for 9 years.

tommer74 on February 27, 2014 at 1:29 PM

Holy crap…how did I miss that the first time through?!? I’d hope they weren’t working all 10 years on this, but if so this must have been their schedule…

Project Day 1: Increase font on a couple lines and add one row of new information. Project Day 2-3650: Play Tetris, eat Cheetos and collect check!

nextgen_repub on February 27, 2014 at 3:39 PM

calories… TWO HUNDRED THIRTY!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sachiko on February 27, 2014 at 3:46 PM

And this all important revision probably cost the taxpayer about a billion dollars with the dozens of meetings involving hundreds of bureaucrats , the research and focus groups, the advertising of such change, the paperwork, training of some inspector to this “new system”, etc….I am sure it goes on.

Gosh this makes me so mad.

tommer74 on February 27, 2014 at 1:20 PM

Not to mention a few multi-million dollar conferences in Acapulco or Catalina Island, complete with lots of booze and hookers.

You know, they need to be rewarded for this great accomplishment.

UltimateBob on February 27, 2014 at 3:51 PM

Same data… same information… different format… big expense for all of them to have to reprint their packages.

sadatoni on February 27, 2014 at 3:56 PM

The cost of compliance with this is enormous. Guess who pays?

Murphy9 on February 27, 2014 at 4:12 PM

Heck, isn’t it true that what we’re really counting here is “kilocalories”? A food calorie is an energy kilocalorie. So, couldn’t they raise the shock value one more notch by forcing the food packagers to add three 0s at the end of all those scary, big-print numbers? Just wondering……..

GWB on February 27, 2014 at 4:48 PM

Okay, so what is it? A can of peas? A box of instant waffles?

Sorry, I see nothing of use on the new label or the old label.

Lolo on February 27, 2014 at 4:56 PM

In the early 60s Rep. Monroney managed to get his “consumer friendly” fantasy passed into law. It’s been downhill ever since.

FOWG1 on February 27, 2014 at 5:31 PM

Easy to tell if you should buy it or not: does it espouse health benefits and/or is it processed? If so, leave it.

LaughterJones on February 27, 2014 at 6:49 PM

Nutritional labels get a facelift; media very, very impressed

…the media….can eat shit!

KOOLAID2 on February 27, 2014 at 7:10 PM

When ayurvedic supplements and the like became popular the import of them was not regulated in the US. The manufactures, most from India, and the distributors refused to label their products and we got the DSHEA laws. Sometimes business should be smart and get out in front of these issues. But wait!

Better to come up with an industry standard than use lobbyist to stop standards you say. Why waste the money on lobbyists. Truth is the big manufactures are in bed with government and are more than happy to jointly pass standards that suppress competition. This 10 year study and push has the full support of a few in the industry.

They laugh at us when we blame the government. Sad I say.

HonestLib on February 27, 2014 at 7:26 PM

Calories? It’s over 9000!!! In all serious this is a nothingburger.

Imrahil on February 27, 2014 at 8:16 PM

Gee. I wonder how people stayed thin before these labels. It must have been he!!.

NavyMustang on February 27, 2014 at 8:23 PM

NavyMustang on February 27, 2014 at 8:23 PM

Over the last 50 years have calories have gotten cheaper or more expensive when inflation is factored in and pegging the dollar at a specific baseline? The answer is surprising.

HonestLib on February 27, 2014 at 9:26 PM

My family has always read nutritional info on foods that post them on their packaging. Now, we can see info on some items that we commonly consume that we didn’t understand were so high in fat and calories. For instance, I love the soft pretzels that are popular in malls and at Sam’s Club. I believed pretzels were the better choice to satisfy my hunger that pizza etc. I was wrong and shocked to see how unhealthy they are (without butter) and I do not order them anymore.
I guess it doesn’t matter to some people but I care and appreciate having the info to make better choices.

Saints on February 28, 2014 at 8:04 AM

My family has always read nutritional info on foods that post them on their packaging. Now, we can see info on some items that we commonly consume that we didn’t understand were so high in fat and calories. For instance, I love the soft pretzels that are popular in malls and at Sam’s Club. I believed pretzels were the better choice to satisfy my hunger than pizza etc. I was wrong and shocked to see how unhealthy they are (without butter) and I do not order them anymore.
I guess it doesn’t matter to some people but I care and appreciate having the info to make better choices.

Saints on February 28, 2014 at 9:01 AM

Just shop on the perimeter of the store where all the fresh fruits, veggies, meat and dairy are, avoid the aisles and accept the fact that if it comes in a bag or box it’s probably not very good for you.

tommyboy on February 28, 2014 at 9:16 AM

This is moronic.

All it does is draw attention to the calories per serving- at the expense of everything else.

Having the %DV on the left side is distracting and I find the “per 2/3 cup” or whatever to be distracting.

Everyone knows the serving size is completely arbitrary and basically a joke. I always just do the quick math in my head… 8 servings @ 230 calories each means if I eat 1/4 the carton it’s 460 calories.

This just confuses the format that we’ve all trained ourselves to parse over the years while adding nothing new.

bettercallputin on February 28, 2014 at 10:31 AM

What happened to “Calories From Fat”? It’s gone. They also took off the daily values reference. Epic Fail, Fatass.

Ward Cleaver on February 28, 2014 at 10:38 AM

HonestLib on February 27, 2014 at 9:26 PM

Cliffy, if you have a fun fact, just say it. 12 hours later and no baited-breath queries should tell you to just put it out there.

winoceros on February 28, 2014 at 11:06 AM

Yep I don’t use the nutritional label either…but I think my kid said it best…”what change? All they did was make the font bigger. I could have done that”.

She Walks In Beauty on February 28, 2014 at 11:08 AM

Under the changes, serving sizes will be made easier to understand

Because clearly my fellow Americans are too poorly educaated to divide a 42 oz bottle by 12 oz serving sizes.

They really do think we are children, don’t they…?

JohnGalt23 on February 28, 2014 at 12:13 PM

So, the two of the basic items I look for, calories from fat and number of servings are now gone.
Since most serving sizes are unrealistic, I look for calories per container and divide out realistic servings.
As for calories from fat, easier to have it laid out to determine percentage of calories from fat than computing fat grams and converting.

lvtaxman on March 2, 2014 at 11:36 AM