WASHINGTON, Feb. 27 (Xinhua) -- The U.S. government on Thursday proposed to update the Nutrition Facts label for packaged foods as part of an effort to help consumers make healthier choices.
The proposed updates are intended to reflect the latest scientific information about the link between diet and chronic diseases such as obesity and heart disease, the White House said in a statement.
The proposed label would also replace "out-of-date serving sizes" to better align with the amount consumers actually eat, and it would feature a fresh design to highlight key parts of the label such as calories and serving sizes, it said.
U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama, who has launched the "Let's Move!" initiative to fight childhood obesity, announced the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) proposal at the White House with Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius and FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg.
"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 Obama.
"So this is a big deal, and it's going to make a big difference for families all across this country," she said.
Under the FDA proposal, calories and serving sizes would be displayed more prominently in larger, bold type. Serving sizes would be updated to more accurately reflect what people are actually eating. The FDA said what and how much Americans eat and drink has changed since the serving sizes were first put in place in 1994.
The FDA also proposed to list "added sugars" on the label along with the current "Sugars" declaration, which includes both naturally occurring and added sugar, to help consumers know how much sugar has been added to the product during food production. The FDA said intake of added sugar is too high in the U.S. population and should be reduced.
The revisions would also require listing the amount of Vitamin D and potassium, which the FDA said many Americans don't get enough of. According to the agency, vitamin D is important for its role in bone health while potassium is beneficial in lowering blood pressure. Vitamins A and C would no longer be required on the label, though manufacturers could declare them voluntarily.
"Calories from Fat" would be removed, while "Total Fat," " Saturated Fat," and "Trans Fat" remain because research shows the type of fat is more important than the amount, the FDA said.
The Nutrition Facts label in the U.S., which has been required on food packages for 20 years, has not changed significantly since 2006 when information on trans fat had to be declared on the label, prompting manufacturers to reduce partially hydrogenated oils, the main source of trans fat, in many of their products.
The FDA said the proposed updates affect all packaged foods except certain meat, poultry and processed egg products, which are regulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service.
The agency said it will accept public comment on the proposed changes for 90 days.