New nutrition labels and how they show salt, fat and sugar

Nutrition labels, or more accurately nutrition information panels on food and beverage labels, are getting a makeover, the Food and Drug Administration announced last week. My first reaction: disappointment that salt content isn’t being targeted and that the FDA didn’t significantly reduce what it recommends as daily salt intake for an adult.

“The FDA proposal also reduces the daily recommendation on sodium to 2,300 milligrams from 2,400, which the Center for Science in the Public Interest said isn’t enough. The daily value should be reduced to 1,500 milligrams, the nonprofit advocacy group said,” reported Bloomberg.

Since my angioplasty, nutritionists have told me to limit salt intake to 1,500 mgs a day. I’ve aimed for 1,200, believing products can have more salt than advertised, especially when it comes to restaurant food.

A comparison of old and newly proposed nutrition panels on food labels.A comparison of old and newly proposed nutrition panels on food labels.A comparison of old and newly proposed nutrition panels on food labels.
A comparison of old and newly proposed nutrition panels on food labels.

The calories from fat line is being eliminated, a mistake as well, I believe. The new label makes the calorie content of a food or beverage more prominent, thinking that will somehow scare people into eating less. Studies I’ve seen of locales that have required calorie-posting in restaurants for some time, such as New York City, are doutbful about whether seeing calorie counts causes people to cut down on what they eat.

The new labels will require a line that specifies added sugar. Some in the food world think of this as the bad sugar that leads to obesity, diabetes, etc. But at least one nutritionist has told me all sugar is bad, even natural sugar in fruit. So I’m not convinced calling out added sugar will make a difference in people’s eating habits or health. And the industry is sure to fight this recommendation.

Portion size also will be changed to reflect full containers in some cases, such as 20-ounce sodas, but again I think the food business will fight this point, showing portions people actually eat would show just how much sugar, fat and salt is hidden in many packaged foods and beverages.

I would have liked to see more said and done about cutting salt and calling out salt content on labels. I think talking just about calories misses the hidden damage salt does to our health. We our hooked on salt and it’s killing many of us.


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