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FDA Forces Brands’ Hands on Transparency in Labeling

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But what does it all MEAN?!?

The Food and Drug Administration has finally confirmed a move supported by Michelle Obama and many other health advocates: a redesign of nutritional labels to emphasize honesty over obfuscation.

More specifically, the new regulations will require that serving sizes increase (because no one ever eats just five chips), that all products list added sugars separately and that calories be noted with larger type. In the words of a “longtime food company consultant”, it’s “sort of a laundry list of everything the industry didn’t want.”

How very, very delicious.

ICYMI, this comes less than a month after a study finding that excessive sugar consumption can double the risk of heart disease…and that most Americans eat far more of it than we’re supposed to.

Of course, many will predictably call it another example of government overreach, and major food brands will worry about how it might affect their reputations and their bottom lines.

POLITICO even headlines the story “FLOTUS goes all in on food label changes” as if this is some dastardly plan Obama concocted in top-secret basement meetings (it’s been in the works for more than a decade). If we didn’t know better, we’d say they’re inviting critics to call her whatever names they haven’t thought of yet. Here’s her statement preceding today’s announcement:

“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.”

Look, if one honestly thinks that requiring companies to list their products’ ingredients in ways that reflect the way we actually eat is part of some Big Brother conspiracy, then we really don’t know what to say. The side-by-side, courtesy of CBS and the FDA:

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Our spin: this will be great for those brands whose products don’t contain any added sweeteners: you know, foodstuffs that aren’t actively unhealthy. Remember this “organic food snarks on meaningless ‘all-natural’ label” story? Yeah. The move will also require certain big-name producers to be a little more transparent about what their products do—which could of course lead to big challenges on the reputation front.

And we think that’s a very good thing.

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