FDA: Proposed rule on changes to Nutrition Facts panel due by end of 2012

By Elaine Watson

- Last updated on GMT

Would larger serving sizes be more realistic - or would they just encourage us to eat more?
Would larger serving sizes be more realistic - or would they just encourage us to eat more?
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is aiming to publish a proposed rule to reform the Nutrition Facts panel and related rules by the end of this year, somewhat later than originally expected.

A spokesman said: “FDA hopes to publish, by the end of the calendar year, a proposed rule, which if finalized, would revise the Nutrition Facts panel.”

Serving sizes, daily values, additional nutrient declarations?

The FDA, which had been expected to publish the rule late last year, will not discuss its scope, but is expected to look at serving sizes, daily values, adjustments to label formats and additional nutrient declarations, all of which have the potential to cause controversy.

For example, changes to the way DVs are calculated could have broad ramifications for the dietary supplements trade.

If the FDA proposes that daily values are based on EARs (Estimated Average Requirements) instead of RDAs (recommended dietary allowances) – the dosage needed to get 100% of your daily value would drop considerably, as EARs are lower than RDAs.

As a result, some consumers might think they are getting all the nutrients they need from food and might no longer deem it necessary to buy dietary supplements, argue trade associations.

What changes are needed?

Servings sizes, meanwhile, have also generated a lot of debate in the food industry, with the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) arguing that "ridiculously tiny​" serving sizes make certain products appear in a more favorable light​, while others claim that larger servings might encourage people to eat even more.

As for additions to the panel, some manufacturers think wholegrain content should be included as consumers find it hard to know if they are getting enough, although others argue that the panel is already too crowded.

Speaking to FoodNavigator-USA last year, Adam Drewnowksi, Professor, Epidemiology, at the University of Washington, said he would like to see something “simpler, more direct”​, adding: “I’d also like calorie information to be clearer. This bag of chips contains xx calories.”

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