Monthly Archives: August 2016
In May 2016, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced a number of changes to the current Nutrition Facts label for packaged foods. The changes reflect new scientific information, including the link between diet and chronic diseases such as obesity and heart disease. In addition, the new label will make it easier for families to make informed decisions about the food they eat.
Highlights of the New Nutrition Facts Label
- Increased type size for “Calories,” “servings per container,” and “Serving size”
- Bolded number of calories and the “Serving size”
- Changed Daily Value footnote to read: “The % Daily Value tells you how much a nutrient in a serving of food contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.”
- Reflection of updated information about nutrition science
- Included “added sugars” in grams and as % Daily Value on label
- Updated list of nutrients required or permitted to be declared on the label
- Removed “Calories from Fat” from the label
- Updated Daily Values for nutrients like sodium, dietary fiber and vitamin D
- Update to serving sizes and labeling requirements for certain package sizes
- By law, serving sizes must now be based on amounts of foods and beverages that people are actually eating, not what they should be eating. How much people eat and drink has changed since the previous serving size requirements were published in 1993. For example, the reference amount used to set a serving of ice cream was previously ½ cup but is changing to ⅔ cup. The reference amount used to set a serving of soda is changing from 8 ounces to 12 ounces.
- Packages between one and two servings now require the calories and other nutrients to be labeled as one serving, because people typically consume it in one sitting. Package size affects what people eat.
- Manufacturers must provide “dual column” labels to indicate the amount of calories and nutrients on both a “per serving” and “per package”/”per unit” basis for certain products that are larger than a single serving but that could be consumed in one sitting or multiple sittings. Examples would be a 24-ounce bottle of soda or a pint of ice cream. With dual-column labels available, you will be able to easily understand how many calories and nutrients you are getting if you eat or drink the entire package/unit at one time.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why must “added sugars” now be included?
The scientific evidence underlying the 2010 and the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans support reducing caloric intake from added sugars; and expert groups such as the American Heart Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the Institute of Medicine and the World Health Organization also recommend decreasing intake of added sugars. See the AAP policy statement, Snacks, Sweetened Beverages, Added Sugars, and Schools, for more information.
In addition, it is difficult to meet nutrient needs while staying within calorie requirements if you consume more than 10% of your total daily calories from added sugars. On average, Americans get about 13% of their total calories from added sugars, with the major sources being sugar-sweetened beverages (including soft drinks, fruit drinks, coffee and tea, sport and energy drinks, and alcoholic beverages) and snacks and sweets (including grain-based desserts, dairy desserts, candies, sugars, jams, syrups, and sweet toppings).
Bioengineering has pushed farmers beyond the age-old practice of selective breeding, whereby one animal or plant strain was crossed with a related one to bring out desirable characteristics and suppress less useful ones. Now, scientists can manipulate genes and create new strains out of unrelated species. Foods, ingredients, and additives produced by bioengineering must meet the same FDA safety standards as traditional products. The total acreage of bioengineered crops is still small, but it represents a growing practice.
Food producers are responsible for ensuring that the foods they sell are safe. The US Department of Agriculture has the authority to remove meat, poultry, and egg products produced in federally inspected plants, and the FDA has the authority to remove all other foods from the market if they pose a risk to public health.
Risk of Allergic Reactions
One area of concern related to the transfer of genetic material is the possibility that proteins introduced from one food into another could cause allergic reactions in people sensitive to the first food. For example, a tomato bred to produce a protein normally found in peanuts could cause potentially life-threatening symptoms when eaten by someone allergic to peanuts. For this reason, the FDA requires clear scientific proof of safety from developers working with foods to which people are commonly allergic, such as milk, eggs, wheat, fish, tree nuts (eg, walnuts, pecans), and legumes (eg, beans, peanuts). It’s impossible to predict allergic reactions to proteins derived from plants or other sources if they are not recognized causes of allergy. Nevertheless, scientists can test a bioengineered protein to see whether its structure resembles that of a known allergen. If it does, further tests show whether an allergic cross-reaction is likely.
Food traps are situations and places that make it difficult to eat right. We all have them. The following tips may help your family avoid some of the most common traps.
Food Trap #1: Vacations, Holidays, and Other Family Gatherings
When on a trip, don’t take a vacation from healthy eating and exercise.
What You Can Do:
- Plan your meals. Will all your meals be from restaurants? If so, can you split entrees and desserts to keep portions from getting too large? Can you avoid fast food? Can you bring along your own healthy snacks?
- Stay active. Schedule time for physical activities such as taking a walk or swimming in the hotel pool.
It’s easy to overeat during holidays. But you don’t need to fear or avoid them.
What You Can Do:
- Approach the holidays with extra care. Don’t lose sight of what you and your child are eating. Plan to have healthy foods and snacks on hand. Bring a fruit or veggie tray with you when you go to friends and family.
- Celebrate for the day, not an entire month! Be sure to return to healthy eating the next day.
Other Family Gatherings
In some cultures, when extended families get together, it can turn into a food feast, from morning to night.
What You Can Do:
- Eat smaller portions. Avoid overeating whenever you get together with family. Try taking small portions instead.
- Get family support. Grandparents, aunts, and uncles can have an enormous effect on your child’s health. Let them know that you’d like their help in keeping your child on the road to good health.
Food Trap #2: Snack Time
The biggest time for snacking is after school. Kids come home wound up, stressed out, or simply bored, so they reach for food.
What You Can Do:
- Offer healthy snacks such as raw vegetables, fruit, light microwave popcorn, vegetable soup, sugar-free gelatin, or fruit snacks.
- You pick the snack. When children are allowed to pick their own snacks, they often make unhealthy choices. Talk to your child about why healthy snacks are important. Come up with a list of snacks that you can both agree on and have them on hand.
- Keep your child entertained. Help your child come up with other things to do instead of eating, such as playing outside, dancing, painting a picture, flying a kite, or taking a walk with you.
- Make sure your child eats 3 well-balanced meals a day. This will help cut down on the number of times he or she needs a snack.
Food Trap #3: Running Out of Time
Finding time every day to be physically active can be very difficult. However, if you plan ahead, there are ways to fit it in.
What You Can Do:
- Make a plan. Sit down with your child and plan in advance for those days when it seems impossible to find even 15 minutes for physical activity. Have a plan B ready that your child can do after dark, such as exercising to a workout video.
- Make easy dinners. If you run out of time to make dinner, don’t run to the nearest fast-food restaurant. Remember, dinners don’t have to be elaborate. They can be as simple as a sandwich, bowl of soup, piece of fruit, and glass of milk.