The Nutrition Facts label just got a makeover, and there’s good news and bad news.
The good news: the new label makes it easier to spot (and avoid) calories from added sugar. Predictably, the sugar industry is angry, which should make the rest of us very happy (Scientific American). And another bonus: the FDA is cracking down on misleading names for sugar. “Evaporated cane juice” won’t be allowed any longer. Food manufacturers will have to call it by its real name: sugar.
Serving sizes have also been updated to reflect the amount that people actually eat, so we’ll get a lot less nonsense like foods that are technically “fat free” because the serving size is impossibly tiny.
The bad news: calories are being even more strongly emphasized as The One True Number that makes a food “healthy” or “unhealthy.” The calorie count is now in enormous font right at the top of the label. We’ve already discussed how the focus on “calorie balance” is really all about the junk-food lobby (it lets Coke justify advertising all kinds of junk because if all you care about is calories, then calories from Coke and calories from broccoli are the same). And calorie-counting doesn’t help people lose weight in the real world – really, it doesn’t!
There are also some changes to the required vitamins: vitamins A and C will no longer be required (but manufacturers can choose to keep listing them if they want). And vitamin D and potassium will now be required. Probably a good change, although not hugely significant.