Michelle Obama said the changes would be "a big deal"

Michelle Obama said the changes would be "a big deal"

The US government today (27 February) set out plans to change the Nutrition Facts labels on food and beverages sold in the country.

The new labels would include information about added sugars and update data on serving sizes to "reflect the amounts people currently eat", the US Food and Drug Administration said.

The proposals are an attempt to "update" a Nutrition Facts label introduced in 1994, the FDA said.

It also wants information on calories, serving sizes and the percent daily value of an ingredient in a product to be "emphasised". These ingredients are "important in addressing current public health problems like obesity and heart disease". 

First Lady Michelle Obama, who announced the changes, said: "Our guiding principle here is very simple: that you as a parent and a consumer should be able to walk into your local grocery store, pick up an item off the shelf, and be able to tell whether it’s good for your family. So this is a big deal, and it's going to make a big difference for families all across this country."

The proposals, which will be open for public comment for 90 days, would see labels that show two columns to indicate "per serving" and "per package" nutrition information for larger packages that could be consumed in one sitting or multiple sittings.

Manufacturers would be required to declare the levels of potassium and vitamin D in their products.

The "daily values" for nutrients such as sodium, dietary fibre and Vitamin D would be revised. Those values are used to calculate the Percent Daily Value on the label, which helps consumers understand the nutrition information in the context of a total daily diet.

Under the plans, information on "Calories from Fat" would be removed because "research shows the type of fat is more important than the amount", the FDA said.

FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg added: "To remain relevant, the FDA's newly proposed Nutrition Facts label incorporates the latest in nutrition science as more has been learned about the connection between what we eat and the development of serious chronic diseases impacting millions of Americans."

The Grocery Manufacturers Association, the industry representing food manufacturers operating in the US, could not be reached for immediate comment.