Tag Archives: Food legislation

FDA proposes sweeping changes for food labels

Well, I can’t wait to see the fighting on this one, because this is one of the best pieces of information-based legislation consumers have if they want to make good decisions regarding their food choices.  So far that’s not been saying much, since the Nutrition Facts label has been so difficult for most people to interpret that they largely ignore it.  These changes would be mighty helpful.  Here’s what the FDA is proposing:

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When you see what half that pint will cost you, they'll need smelling salts in the aisle.  *sigh*

When you see what half that pint will cost you, they’ll need smelling salts in the aisle. *sigh*

The press release may be found here.

The comment period, which will last for 90 days, will begin Monday.  Anyone can comment, and I highly suggest you do.  My first-read has me poised to ask the FDA to include calories from added sugar, not just grams (but in case you were wondering, it’s a teaspoon for every 4 grams  Currently, though, sugars from fruit and sugars from added sugar are included under the same category).  The Daily Values have not been updated in so long that the upper limit for salt (2300 mg) is LESS than the current daily value listed (<2400 mg — which to most people means 2400 mg.  The current recommendation for sodium is generally 1500 mg).  It’s way past time. Look for a food fight here, but Ms. Obama is building a serious legacy with this one.

Get your fingers on the keyboard if you like the idea of having quick reference to what is in your food.

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Big Gulp: American symbol of freedom?

“Hey, down here. Yeah, it’s your butt calling. Drink less of that crap, will you?”

New York City, which has over the last few years become the center of public health policy (they were the first to ban added trans fat and to start labeling menus with calorie and fat content), is proposing a ban on giant sodas.

Public health officials emphasize that consuming large quantities of sugary beverages contributes significantly to obesity, and that large cups contribute to higher consumption.  This is correct.  The beverage industry is carrying on like it’s the end of freedom and capitalism as we know it, as the purveyors of foods with added trans fat and higher calories carried on before them as they faced public health legislation.

Regulating public health can impact the ability to turn a profit, but only if businesses refuse to change their business model.

The Double Fudge donut has 130 calories and 7 grams of fat — about the same as a cookie. Woo-hoo!

Starbucks, for example, faced new menu regulations last year requiring them to disclose the calorie and fat content of each bakery product in their prominently displayed cases.  The bakery case entices while the beverage-seeker awaits, but a blueberry scone becomes a harder sale with a tag warning the consumer that it’s a 460 calorie indulgence.

Their solution?  The words mini and petite.  Little doughnut, fewer calories.  Little scone, fewer calories.  They also introduced oatmeal with optional toppings, and released a pamphlet highlighting the food offerings under 350 calories.

It seems to be going all right: in June, Starbucks acquired LaBoulange Bakery to continue to increase its bakery offerings while keeping a bigger piece of the pie, so to speak.

Sugary drink aficionados, just know that when you fill up the cup, you are likely to drink what is inside rather than water, whether the cup is 8 oz. or 64 oz.  Cutting back here is an excellent way to lose weight, it’s true.  Cutting back on your insulin spikes is an excellent way to prevent diabetes and heart disease as well.

But if you’re worried about losing your freedom, you can rest easy knowing that 7-Eleven will still be allowed to sell its 1.3 L Big Gulp (Double Gulp?) because grocery and convenience stores are exempt from the ban.  You can also buy two sodas at the restaurant if you insist, but judging by the amount of money soda makers are using to fight this, you probably won’t.

If the ban passes, you should look for some changes.  Beverage makers will come up with healthier solutions, perhaps sold in bottles on the side.  The American capitalist spirit never dies, it merely reinvents itself to better suit the needs of its consumers.