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Michelle Obama proposes major update to food labels

Thursday, February 27, 2014 - 00:48

Feb. 27 - In a bid to combat obesity, First Lady Michelle Obama proposes new food product labels, calling them ''the label of the future.'' Rough Cut (no reporter narration).

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ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) First lady Michelle Obama, alongside the Food and Drug Administration, announced new food labeling proposals on Thursday (February 27) as U.S. health officials seek to reduce obesity and combat related diseases such as diabetes. Under a proposal to significantly update nutritional labels for the first time in 20 years, packaged foods sold in the United States would display calorie counts more prominently and include the amount of added sugar. The FDA said its proposal would also ensure that the amount of calories listed per serving reflects the portions that people typically eat. That change may result in per-serving calorie counts doubling for some foods such as ice cream. The principle behind the update is "very simple," said Michelle Obama, who has used her White House position to launch the "Let's Move" campaign to fight childhood obesity. "As consumers and as parents we have a right to understand what's in the food we're feeding our families, because that's really really the only way we can make informed choices," she said. While the FDA already requires companies to list the amount of sugar in a product, under the proposal they would also be required to list the amount of added sugar. Natural sugar is contained in fruits. Added sugar includes corn syrup and concentrated juice as well as white and brown sugar. "You'll also learn more about where the sugar in the food comes from, like whether the sugar in your yogurt was added during processing, or whether in comes from ingredients like fruits," Mrs. Obama told guests at the White House Thursday. In addition, the labeling on vitamin content would change, with companies required to list the amount of potassium and vitamin D. Currently, companies are required to list the amounts of vitamin A and vitamin C, but the FDA said deficiencies in vitamin D and potassium are more likely. The FDA estimated the cost to industry of updating the labels will be about $2 billion while the benefit to consumers is estimated at between $20 billion to $30 billion. The updates would take another three years or so to take effect. First there will be a 90-day public comment period, after which the FDA will draw up final rules. Once finalized, companies will have two years to comply with the regulations.

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Michelle Obama proposes major update to food labels

Thursday, February 27, 2014 - 00:48