Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Some thoughts on New Nutrition Labels

Mostly, I wish the money/effort being put into labels on packages was instead directed toward getting people to eat food that doesn't come in packages.

We do live in the real world, however, and even my family (one that strives to eat as much whole foods as we can), buys snacks, bread, condiments, and other things, in packages. And, I'm glad the labels are there. But, mostly I read the labels for ingredients. When I buy a snack for my 5-year-old, I don't care about the calories. I care that there's not a ton of sugar and food coloring. He needs calories, but they need to be quality calories.

On the other hand, many people who are not skinny, active 5-year-olds, would benefit greatly from eating fewer calories. But, is changing the way they are labeled on packages the answer? I tend to think not. While limiting the calories consumed is definitely something many people need to be concerned with, if people are using the information on labels to count their daily intake, they are able to do the math to figure out how many calories are in multiple servings -- regardless of the size of the serving, or the size of the font the calorie count is written in.

There are other changes on the label, too … Does added sugars vs. sugars that naturally occur in foods make a difference? I think so, and I like this addition to the labels. Even if eating the same amount of naturally occurring sugar has the same impact on your health as eating added sugar (which I suspect it doesn't), putting the amount of added sugar in black and white will be an eye opener for many consumers.

Swapping out Vitamins A and C to add potassium and magnesium? Ummm … Seems like a six of one and half-dozen of another scenario. Why don't we just list the nutrients that are present and leave off the ones that aren't? That seems like it would give the label the most value.