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Possible Changes to Food Labels Would Highlight Calories

Updated: 02/27/2014 10:22 PM
Created: 02/27/2014 8:49 PM WDIO.com
By: Maarja Anderson

Big changes are coming to what you know about the food you eat. For the first time in 20 years, the FDA is proposing changes to the nutrition labels you see on nearly everything you buy at the grocery store.

Nutritionists say the old label was based on what people were actually eating, but that was 50 years ago and things have changed, most importantly portion sizes have gotten bigger.

The federal government is looking to bring the food nutrition labels up to date. Thursday morning, First Lady Michelle Obama unveiled the new standards.

"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," she said.

There are noticeable differences between the current and proposed new labels. The calorie count is much bigger on the new label, and it adds a category for "added sugar," or so-called empty calories.

The new labels would also tackle a growing problem: serving sizes.

For a demonstration on how the serving sizes will change click here.

Vending machines are often a go-to for snacks. Everything is a little smaller so it looks like it should be one serving, but you might want to check the label because you might be fooled. A small back of almonds actually has three servings.

Serving sizes have long been misleading, say nutritionists. Many single-serving packages list multiple servings, so the calorie count is lower.

So how many calories are in a 24 ounce can of Mountain Dew?

"170!" said UMD student Katie Kemp. "But wait, there's two servings. Wow. So a lot more than 170."

Under the new regulations, things will look a lot different. A 12 ounce and 24 ounce can of pop will both be considered one serving. The calorie count will then reflect how many calories are in the overall container.

The new nutrition labels are likely several years away. The FDA projects food companies will have to pay around $2 billion as they change the labels.

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