Thursday, October 14, 2010
Food Label That Highlights Harmful Nutrients
A report from the Institute of Medicine is being developed to help Congress and the Food and Drug Administration decide what to do about the proliferation of certain labeling practices that food companies and retailers use to promote the nutritional aspects of food products. According to the report, nutrition information on the front of food packages should focus on the nutrients most responsible for obesity and chronic diseases: calories, saturated fat, trans fat and sodium.
The report suggests a package-front label that emphasize the potentially harmful nutrients in the food product — for example, those that promote obesity, diabetes or heart disease — and exclude information about beneficial nutrients, like fiber or vitamins.
That was partly to avoid a mixed message and partly because including information about positive ingredients could encourage food companies to unnecessarily fortify foods with nutrients to score better in the labeling system, the report said.
"What we’re suggesting is that food products be labeled in a consistent way with information that will help the general public decrease their risk for chronic diseases and this is the type of information that is unlikely to currently appear on the front of the package,” said Alice H. Lichtenstein, a professor of nutrition at Tufts University and vice chairwoman of the institute committee that prepared the report.