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Nutrition Facts Label to Receive FDA Overhaul

<p>FDA is seeking to make the new information more understandable to consumers in a move that could help them to eat healthier.</p>

WASHINGTONThe U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is working to update the 20-year-old nutrition facts panel, partially reflecting increasing awareness of the importance of a healthy diet.

"The agency is working toward publishing proposed rules to update the nutrition facts label and serving size information to improve consumer understanding and use of nutrition information on food labels," FDA spokeswoman Theresa Eisenman said Monday in a written statement.

FDA hasn't specified a timeline on when it plans to release the draft rules.

Michael Taylor, FDA's deputy commissioner for foods, told The Associated Press  the agency has been working on the issue for a decade. According to the Jan. 23 article, the agency has submitted guidelines for the new labels to the White House.

"Since the nutrition facts label was introduced 20 years ago, the science and recommendations underlying the nutrition facts label has changed," Eisenman said. "For example, the initial nutritional facts label focused on fat in the diet.  There is now a shift to focus on calories to help consumers construct healthy diets."

Critics of the current facts panel have pointed out that some information is unnecessary, hard to read and difficult to understand. In a 2010 report, the Center for Science in the Public Interest suggested such changes as listing calories more prominently and revealing nutrient content for realistic serving sizes.

The overhaul could help consumers make more informed choices that lead them to shun excess calories and select healthier foods.

The Mayo Clinic explains that a food label is particularly important for individuals who are suffering from health conditions such as high blood pressure or high cholesterol and need to eat a special diet.  

Although the current nutrition facts label may appear cluttered and difficult to digest for the average consumer, FDA explains how to understand and use it on its website.


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