Fat was the focus two decades ago when the labels first were created, but nutritionists are now more concerned with how many calories we eat (Agencies)
Under the proposed changes, calories would be in larger, bolder type on food labels, and consumers for the first time would know whether foods have added sugars.
Serving sizes would be updated. They have long been misleading, with many single-serving packages listing multiple servings, so the calorie count is lower.
"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 first lady Michelle Obama, who was to join the Food and Drug Administration in announcing the proposed changes today at the White House.
Mrs Obama was making the announcement as part of her Let's Move initiative to combat child obesity, which is celebrating its fourth anniversary.
The new nutrition labels are likely several years away. The FDA will take comments on the proposal for 90 days, and a final rule could take another year. Once it's final, the agency has proposed giving industry two years to comply.
The FDA projects food companies will have to pay around USD 2 billion as they change the labels. The Grocery Manufacturers Association, the industry group that represents the nation's largest food companies, did not respond to any specific parts of the proposal but called it a "thoughtful review."
President Pamela Bailey said it was important to the food companies that the labels "ultimately serve to inform, and not confuse, consumers."
It was still not yet clear what the final labels would look like. The FDA offered two labels in its proposal “one that looks similar to the current version but is shorter and clearer, and another that groups the nutrients into a "quick facts" category for things like fat, carbohydrates, sugars and proteins.
There also would be an "avoid too much" category for saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, sodium and added sugars; and a "get enough" section with vitamin D, potassium, calcium, iron and fiber.
Fat was the focus two decades ago when the labels first were created, but nutritionists are now more concerned with how many calories we eat