Legacy in the News: Legacy dieticians say FDA's food label makeover could make calories easier to count

Portland Business Journal, KATU News, KEX-AM 1190

March 14, 2014
The Food and Drug Adminstration recently unveiled the first major makeover for food labels in 20 years. Consumers will see at least a half dozen noticeable changes, including more prominent calorie counts, and more realistic serving sizes. Although it could be a year before the new labels grace food shelves, Pam Evans, Sarah Curole and Kelly Laschkewitsch, three Legacy Weight and Diabetes Institute dieticians spoke to local media about what it all means.

Here is Pam Evan's Q & A from the Portland Business Journal:

What is the biggest change?

The FDA proposed showing calories very prominently and in bold. The other thing is making the serving sizes more realistic and more package appropriate. An ice cream serving will be a cup instead of a half a cup. For potato chips, it will be the whole bag. People eat the entire amount in front of them. The calories will reflect what people are eating.

Will this make a big difference?

They're preaching to the choir, but the percentage of people labels is going up, which is good. The people we want to target aren't reading them. But if you can make the calorie count bigger, that's a good thing. Calories are one thing many people understand. It's going to be helpful.

What about showing added sugar?

If you pick up a cherry yogurt, it will be tell you what the added sugar is. The American Heart Association recommends six to nine teaspoons max of added sugar per day. Americans are getting 20 teaspoons per day. There are 17 in a 20-ounce bottle of soda.

Is there anything else you would do if you were to create the perfect food label?

The percentages are confusing. I'd take them out. For a lot of people, the percentages are a turnoff. There's too much noise, which can make or break whether a person looks at the label.