Can you picture 65 grams of sugar? It’s about 16 table spoons, and that’s about what you get in one soda. It translates to about 130% of the USDA’s recommended daily intake of sugar. Would you switch to some other beverage alternative if you knew that?

The Food & Drug Administration proposes a revamp to food labels, with the idea that consumers would make healthier, more informed choices if they could better understand what they were consuming.

In days gone by, fresh fruits, vegetables, grain and meat/fish/poultry comprised a larger part of our diet. But today, highly processed foods make up more than 60% of our diets. Processed foods span a wide spectrum from minimally processed (bagged salad, frozen meat) to highly processed or “multi-ingredient industrial mixtures that are no longer recognizable as their original plant or animal source.”

“No surprise, our favorite categories are those last two. More than three-quarters of our calories came from highly processed (61%) and moderately processed (16%) foods and drinks in 2012. Best-selling products were refined breads, grain-based desserts like cookies, sugary sodas, juice, sports drinks and energy drinks.”

The main problem with processed foods is that we don’t always know what’s in them. And the food labels don’t make it easy to tell. The NPR report linked above says that the FDA has proposed new label rules. The NPR report talks more about how high sugar content that is hard to discern is one of the prompts for the label change, and they offer a side by side picture of before and after. (see below)

The FDA will take public comment on the new proposal for 75 days. They are recommending that guidelines be revised to limit sugar to no more than 10% of daily calories. It’s expected that there will be push back from trade associations representing major food processors. We think that giving consumers better tools to assess what they eat is a huge positive.

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