You’ve been granted free access to this subscribers only article.
Nutrition labels may help shoppers
It’s nothing new to the American consumer that food packaging emphasizes only part of a product’s health story, and the fact that the nutritional labeling hasn’t been overhauled in 20 years hasn’t helped, said cardiologist and professional chef Michael S. Fenster, M.D.
A proposed update, which could take a year or more to appear on store shelves, is being driven by first lady Michelle Obama, as part of her “Let’s Move” campaign.
“Our current nutrition labeling is the same as that implemented in the 1990s, except with the 2006 addition of trans fats information. It’s based on nutrition data and eating habits from the 1970s and 1980s,” said “Dr. Mike,” author of Eating Well, Living Better: The Grassroots Gourmet Guide to Good Health and Great Food.
From the perspective of physician and foodie, he analyzes what’s good about the first lady’s proposed new label, and what could be improved.
•Good: Calorie counts would be displayed in a bigger, bolder font. Emphasizing calories allows consumers to think with a helpful “energy in/energy out” baseline. Do I really need the calories in this product when I could stand to lose a few pounds? That’s a reasonably good question to promote.
Basing the value of food primarily on calories over-simplifies the evaluation process. An energy drink may have zero calories, but it’s not better for you than an apple, which may have 100 calories. We cannot overlook nutrition!
•Good: Serving sizes would be determined from real data reflecting the portions real people typically eat. A serving of ice cream is expected to increase from a half cup to a full cup, and a one-serving muffin would be 4 ounces instead of 2 ounces, reflecting the obvious fact that people generally consume the whole scoop of ice cream and the whole muffin.
Food producers may simply change the size of pre-packaged portions to skirt the rules. Industry experts suggest some food manufacturers may just reduce the package size to make their labeling more seductive. When food is parceled into smaller packages, the price per unit usually increases -- it becomes more expensive for consumers.
•Good: New labeling would have listed separately, “added sugar.” The grams of sugar added, irrespective of whether it’s pure cane sugar, corn syrup, honey, sucrose, or any other source, would be shown as one listed value. This is good because it starts to get into the quality and composition of the food product, at least indirectly. Many public health experts say “sweet creep” has been a major contributor to obesity, certain cancers, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes.
This will likely be wildly controversial, prompting aggressive lobbying efforts that may have already begun. The Grocery Manufacturers Association and other industry groups note that the current label already includes the total amount of sugar in the product. The food industry argues that natural sugar and added sugar are chemically identical and that the body doesn’t differentiate between the two. However, a significant amount of research shows this is not completely true.
Your Opinions and Comments
Be the first to comment on this story!
You must be logged in to post a comment.
Section A: General News Archives
Agencies uncover $400K in stolen vehicles, parts (February 3, 2016)
China Grove begins vote on tax rollback (February 3, 2016)
Clock running out for Floresville recall issue (February 3, 2016)
Connally expands high-tech health care (February 3, 2016)
Council action changes boards (February 3, 2016)
Court Update (February 3, 2016)
Deputies charge Floresville spurned lover with arson (February 3, 2016)
Deputies investigate recent thefts (February 3, 2016)
Editorial: The demand for villains (February 3, 2016)
Editorial: What’s in a city charter? Is it like a … Constitution? (February 3, 2016)
Eight-liner opponents face deadline (February 3, 2016)
FELPS pools tornado damage claim with city, Floresville ISD (February 3, 2016)
Floresville USDA accountant resigns (February 3, 2016)
Free CERT disaster course (February 3, 2016)
Get a free heart health screening in Kenedy Feb. 12 (February 3, 2016)
Greater LV Chamber to meet (February 3, 2016)
H-E-B recalls cookware (February 3, 2016)
Hold on for now (February 3, 2016)
It’s all happening at Nixon-Smiley Elementary (February 3, 2016)
Kicaster area will have fire coverage (February 3, 2016)
Landfill welcomes China Grove junk (February 3, 2016)
Letter: Apple Pie author extends thanks (February 3, 2016)
Letter: Gonzales differs with writer’s conclusion (February 3, 2016)
Letter: Talamantez truly a man of the people (February 3, 2016)
Life Line Screening event set in Floresville Feb. 28 (February 3, 2016)
Mock Republican Debate Feb. 20 (February 3, 2016)
Nixon-Smiley livestock show set for March (February 3, 2016)
One dead in game-room robbery (February 3, 2016)
Pioneer Award honors Burnside (February 3, 2016)
Pirates Cove in Poth offers after-school care service (February 3, 2016)
Police Blotter (February 3, 2016)
Save the date for Lincoln Dinner (February 3, 2016)
School district cops ink deal with city, county (February 3, 2016)
Second responders to meet (February 3, 2016)
Stockdale, La Vernia units respond to back-to-back fires (February 3, 2016)
Tanneberger is top agent (February 3, 2016)
Weigh in on Loop 410 changes (February 3, 2016)
Wilson County Hermann Sons lodges meet new-member goal (February 3, 2016)
‘Loving’ heart-shaped treats are for the birds (February 3, 2016)