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The FDA Plans Food Labeling Changes

WASHINGTON (CN) - The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has proposed changes to nutrition labels, in an effort to combat obesity.

Among the changes, the FDA proposed removing "calories from fat" from food labels, and increasing the prominence of listed calories and serving sizes per container.

After the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act was passed in 1990, the FDA issued a number of regulations on how foods should be labeled.

Monday, the FDA proposed providing updated nutritional information on food labels, based on newer scientific evidence and consensus reports about dietary recommendations.

The agency noted that it has not updated its nutrition facts labels in more than ten years, and has not updated daily values for nutrients in almost 20 years. "Since that time, the public health profile of the U.S. population has changed (e.g., increase in obesity), new information has become available about nutrient definitions (e.g., vitamin E), reference intake values, and analytical methods, and new dietary recommendations have been published," the agency wrote.

Poor diets are a contributing factor to health conditions such as diabetes and cardiovascular diseases, and recent studies show that obesity rates in the U.S. have doubled in recent decades, the FDA wrote.

The FDA says that based on consumer research data, nutrition labels on foods should be improved, and the agency took steps towards making certain changes.

Recent data suggest that the type of fats in foods is more relevant than overall fat intake, which is why the FDA has proposed removing "calories from fat" from food labels.

The agency also seeks comments on whether or not labeling trans fats is needed, based on its recent finding that partially hydrogenated oils are unsafe and should not be included in foods.

A second FDA proposal suggests changes to serving size requirements, in light of recent studies on obesity and other health issues. "In consideration of recent consumption data, research on consumption, and research on consumer understanding of the nutrition facts label, this rule proposes to amend some of the required procedures used to determine serving sizes, proposes to amend the definition of a single serving container, and also proposes to require that certain containers of foods bear an additional column of nutrition information to help consumers understand the nutritional significance of consuming an entire container of certain foods containing multiple servings," the agency wrote.

The proposal is based on findings by the FDA's Obesity Working Group, which deals with how to improve food labels, among other things.

"The intended effect of this rulemaking is to provide consumers with more accurate and up-to-date information on serving sizes," the agency wrote.

Comments on both proposed rules are due by June 2.

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