When you go grocery shopping, do you look at the food labels? If so, do you know exactly what you are reading?
Back in1990, Congress enacted the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act. This requires the Nutrition Facts label to be placed on all packaged food items to help American consumers choose a more nutritious diet.
Since then, food companies have mastered the art of making foods appear healthier than they really are. Although the numbers can look good, the product may not have as much nutritional value as it first appears.
Prompted by the Institute of Medicine, the Food and Drug Administration is planning a complete overhaul on the current nutrition facts label.
Here is a brief glimpse of the changes that you might see in the future:
The proposed label will showcase the number of calories most people consume at one sitting. For example, most individuals will consume an entire 20-ounce soft drink as opposed to the listed serving size of 12-ounces. With the more accurate amount of calories displayed on the packaging, it is hoped that consumers will make more health conscious choices.
I’ll bet you didn’t know most food labels currently highlight what the average American consumed in the 1970s. Most national nutrition surveys today indicate the average American consumes considerably more calories, hence the increase in serving sizes.
The entire revision process will take time, as there are many public comments, final reviews and rules that must be looked at before inception. Until these revisions take place, consumers should remember the following when shopping:
1. Purchase real foods such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
2. Avoid foods loaded with fats, sugars and salt.
3. Real foods slow down eating and provide essential nutrients, while processed foods leave you feeling hungry and deliver minimal nourishment.
The next time you go grocery shopping, do not let the food labels fool you. Shop smart and feel good about the food you are feeding your family!
With assistance from future RDN Ashley Martens