It's no secret that the U.S. have been battling an obesity epidemic for decades now. But over the course of the last eight years, First Lady Michelle Obama has made it a priority to combat the issue by guiding Americans toward healthier lifestyle choices, placing a special emphasis on diet and nutrition.
While progress has often been slow and incremental, FLOTUS earned a huge victory on Friday after the Food and Drug Administration announced that labels on food packages would soon be required to display information on added sugars. The shift will also adjust serving sizes to better reflect how much food Americans actually consume, and push companies to list calorie amounts in a much larger font.
"I am thrilled that the FDA has finalized a new and improved Nutrition Facts label that will be on food products nationwide,” the first lady said in a statement. “This is going to make a real difference in providing families across the country the information they need to make healthy choices.”
The majority of the nation's food manufacturers are expected to adopt the new label by July of 2018, and the benefits for the general public are expected to be far-reaching.
“For more than 20 years, Americans have relied on the Nutrition Facts label as a leading source of information regarding calories, fat and other nutrients to help them understand more about the foods they eat in a day,” FDA Commissioner Robert Califf said in a statement. “The updated label makes improvements to this valuable resource so consumers can make more informed food choices – one of the most important steps a person can take to reduce the risk of heart disease and obesity.”
While updated nutrition labels represent a step in the right direction from a dietary standpoint, on Wednesday new legislation was also introduced to help standardize food date labeling. The bill claims that terms like “sell by,” “use by,” and “expires on” confuse consumers and cause 90 percent of American's to throw away safe food away prematurely.
The legislation would make two uniform labels for food products—one to inform the customer of the peak freshness date, and another to tell the consumer at what point the product is unsafe for consumption. The bill also promises to make the labels distinct and easy to read.
“One of the most common arguments people seem to have at home is about whether or not food should be thrown out just because the date on the label has passed," Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-Maine), who helped introduce the bill alongside Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), said in a press release. "It’s time to settle that argument, end the confusion and stop throwing away perfectly good food."