FDA Wants to Supersize Labels, Downsize Portions


The nation's food manufacturers say the change will cost them close to $2 billion, but the the Food and Drug Administration wants to update food labels—the first such change in more than 20 years.

The White House says the goal is to address the obesity epidemic. With two-thirds of Americans overweight or obese, First Lady Michelle Obama says it’s time to help people realize more clearly what they are putting into their mouths.

"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," said Mrs. Obama. "So this is a big deal, and it's going to make a big difference for families all across this country."

Here's what the labels will look like:


Instead of listing serving sizes people should consume, the labels will list what people actually tend to consume in one sitting. That means a 12 ounce and 20 ounce soda bottle will both simply be "1 serving per bottle."

Labels for the first time will list "added sugars," or how much sugar a food maker has added to a product, as opposed to total sugars from the old labels.

Larger packages would have "dual column" labels with both "per serving" and "per package" calorie and nutrition information, since they may be consumed in single or multiple sittings.

There’s no timetable for the changes to take effect. A 90-day public comment period opens Thursday. Officials said any changes would be phased in gradually.