Michelle Obama’s labeling crusade

First lady Michelle Obama Friday unveiled the country’s first update to nutrition labels in more than two decades — a move that helps cement her campaign to encourage Americans to eat healthier.

The new Nutrition Facts labels, which will take effect in two years and appear on billions of food packages, for the first time require food companies to list how much sugar they add to their products and suggest a limit for how much added sugar people should consume — two changes vehemently opposed by many food companies.

The impact of the rule is difficult to overstate — labels on products from candy bars and sodas to crackers and cereal, at every point of sale across America, must be overhauled at an estimated cost of $2 billion. And those labels will remind Americans every time they open a package of how much added sugar they are consuming.

“Very soon, very soon you will no longer need a microscope, a calculator or a degree in nutrition to figure out whether the food you’re buying is actually good for our kids,” Obama said today as she unveiled the new label at a health summit in Washington. “That’s a phenomenal achievement.”