In a perfect world we would all eat more whole foods, but until then, knowing more about what we're tossing in the grocery cart is important. Like the saying goes, "you are what you eat."
Since it's a less than ideal world, let’s be honest -- reading food package labels can sometimes feel like a fool’s errand, even for the most empowered shoppers among us.
(How many cookies, chips or crackers have you munched before you realize the actual serving size is way less than the amount already ingested?)
Deciphering the contents of foods most Americans buy may soon get a lot easier with new Nutrition Facts labels coming soon to a grocery store near you. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration proposed the changes on Feb. 27, 2014.
It could be a small victory for nutrition-conscious label readers if the changes are adopted.
Imagine living in a world where there's no more guesstimating how much a serving size actually is, or how much processed sugar or salt has been added to your food. And we'd be able to put away our calculator because gauging calorie consumption will get easier too.
"The goal is to make people aware of what they are eating and give them the tools to make healthy dietary choices throughout the day," says Jennifer Leighton Ph.D., senior nutrition science and policy advisor in FDA's Office of Foods and Veterinary Medicine.
The changes are needed to “freshen up” the 20-year-old nutritional labels so they reflect new public health and scientific information, including the undeniable link between our diets and chronic diseases such as obesity and heart disease, and some cancers, the FDA said.
Should the proposed changes go into effect, all packaged foods except those regulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (certain meat, poultry and processed egg products) would be updated in 2016.
“The new label would update out-of-date serving size requirements to better align with how much people really eat,” the FDA said, making it more difficult for food manufacturers to fool consumers about the number of calories they consume.