FDA to Issue New Front-of-Package Labeling Guidance for U.S. Food Manufacturers

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday announced new rules for nutrition labels that can be placed on the front of food packages to show that they are “healthy.”

Under the proposal, manufacturers could label their products “healthy” if they contain a meaningful amount of food from at least one food group or subgroup recommended by the Dietary Guidelines, such as fruits, vegetables, or dairy. They must also adhere to specific limits for certain nutrients, such as saturated fat, sodium, and added sugars. For example, each serving of cereal needs to contain three-quarters of an ounce of whole grains and no more than 1 gram of saturated fat, 230 milligrams of sodium, and 2.5 grams of added sugars for food manufacturers to use the word “healthy” on a label.

The labels are designed to help consumers browse nutrition labels more easily and make better choices at the grocery store. The FDA said the proposed rule would align the definition of a “healthy” claim with current nutritional science, updated Nutrition Facts labels and the current Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

The agency is also developing a symbol that companies can use voluntarily to label foods that meet federal guidelines for the term.

The announcement came ahead of Wednesday’s White House meeting on hunger, nutrition and health. The meeting was the first of its kind since 1969, when a summit hosted by the Nixon administration led to a major expansion of food stamps, school lunches and other programs credited with reducing hunger nationwide and fighting the pandemic. period provides an important safety net.

The White House said in a statement earlier this week that once finalized, the FDA’s new system will “quickly and easily communicate nutritional information” through systems such as the Star Rating or Traffic Light Program to promote equitable access to nutritional information and healthier options. . The system “could also prompt the industry to reformulate healthier products,” it said.

Obesity rates rise among 5- to 11-year-olds during pandemic

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, six in 10 U.S. adults suffer from chronic lifestyle-related diseases that often stem from obesity and poor diet. These diseases are a leading cause of death and disability and a major driver of the $4.1 trillion in annual U.S. health care costs, according to the CDC.

The obesity epidemic isn’t going in the right direction: study shows obesity, especially in children, has risen significantly during the pandemic, The greatest changes were seen in children ages 5 to 11, with an average weight gain of more than 5 pounds. Before the pandemic, approximately 36% of children aged 5 to 11 were considered overweight or obese; during the pandemic, increased to 45.7%.

exist Governments in some Latin American countries have instituted stricter food labelling laws against sugary drinks and ultra-processed foods to escape an obesity epidemic that has overtaken the United States.For example, in Chile, foods high in added sugar, saturated fat, calories and added sodium must display a black stop sign on the front of their package. Anything with a black stop sign cannot be sold or advertised in schools or included in TV commercials targeting children.

Latin America’s war on obesity could be a model for America

Groups such as the Center for Science in the Public Interest have long petitioned the agency to adopt mandatory, standardized and evidence-based front-of-package labeling. They say a nutrition label on the front of the pack will reach more consumers than “nutrient facts” on the back of the pack, help them make healthier food choices quickly and prompt companies to redesign products in a healthier direction. Americans routinely consume too much sodium, added sugar and saturated fat in packaged foods, so being able to quickly identify foods that are high or low in these nutrients would be a major public health benefit, according to nutrition experts.

The Biden administration’s support for the FDA’s efforts to crack down on sodium intake reinforces the agency’s statement last year to allow food companies and restaurants to reduce the sodium content of the foods they produce by about 12 percent over the next 2.5 years. At the same time, it recommends that the FDA reduce Americans’ sugar consumption by “including potential voluntary targets” on sugar levels for food manufacturers.

The new labeling language is sure to cause controversy among food manufacturers trying to capitalize on Americans’ interest in healthy foods.

“The FDA’s definition of ‘healthy’ can only succeed if it is clear and consistent by manufacturers and understood by consumers,” said Roberta Wagner, a spokeswoman for the Consumer Brands Association, an industry group.

But what constitutes a “healthy” food is a tricky topic for nutrition experts. Whether foods that many nutrition scientists call “good fats,” such as almonds or avocados, might be considered “unhealthy,” while artificially sweetened fruit snacks or low-fat, sugar-sweetened yogurts might be considered “healthy.” ?

How the Trump Administration Restricted the Scope of USDA’s 2020 Dietary Guidelines

The FDA started a public process in 2016 to update the “healthy” nutritional content claims on food labels.But critics say dietary guidelines often fail to focus on the right things: during the Trump administration, for example, the 2020 Dietary Steering Committee It is forbidden to consider the health effects of consuming red meat, ultra-processed foods, and sodium.

Federal nutrition guidelines have gone through some notable swings. For years, the advice has been based on the intuitive but wrong idea that eating fat will make us fat. Eating too much cholesterol can give us high cholesterol.

Newer guidelines emphasize eating a plant-based diet that includes vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds. They were tough on limiting salt and saturated fat intake, but simply said cholesterol “is not a nutrient of concern,” removing the long-standing 300-mg-a-day limit.

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