Extreme Makeover: Nutrition Label Edition

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Photo: Courtesy of Kid's Health

Approximately twenty years ago, Congress passed the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act, which required all packaged foods to display a detailed nutrition facts label. This label was to include serving sizes, energy content, and ingredients. Overtime, however, companies have come up with a variety of ways to “trick” consumers with the writing they present on their packaged goods. Due to this deception by food producers, the Center for Science in the Public Interest wants to give the nutrition label a makeover! The suggested changes are as follows:

 The use of symbols on the front of packages to give shoppers a quick snapshot of key nutrients.

  • Put calorie and serving size information at the top of the food label in larger font so it’s easy to read and stands out to consumers.
  • Change the all-caps type of ingredient lists to regular type and separate ingredients with bullets.
  • Separate the ingredients list into minor and major ingredient lists. Highlight all potential allergens and their information in red.
  • Use red labeling and the word “high” when a product has more than 20% of the daily recommendation for fats, sugars, sodium, or cholesterol. Use other colors such as yellow and orange to signify low and medium content, respectively.
  • Label which sugars occur naturally in the product and which are added.
  • List caffeine content.
  • Display the percentage of whole grains contained in the product.

The “new” nutrition facts label looks quite different from the ordinary label we see today. The Center for Science in the Public Interest hope that the label will not only draw the attention of shoppers, but will also encourage people to start caring about what is in their food.