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New Nutrition Food Labels Are Coming: What They Will Mean for You

November 10th, 2008

food-labels-nutrition.jpgAccording to this article by Kristie Leong, we may be seeing new ingredient and nutrition labels appearing on food and beverage products coming from some of the major distributors soon. I’ve always been a big fan of reading ingredient labels on food items to find out exactly what they contain or perhaps some hints about how the product was made. There is nothing quite like the experience of finding out that select ingredients such as “glycerol ester of wood rosin” have been added to certain kinds of sodas to improve their flavor. Yum!

If you’re like most Americans, you’re trying to eat a healthier diet. You may realize that too many calorie-laden processed foods are not the key to a long and healthy life and won’t help you maintain an ideal body weight either. But sometimes it can be difficult to make the proper food choices. Adding to the difficulty is the fact that nutritional labels on food products at your local grocery store can be difficult to decipher. Other times food nutrition labels can be downright misleading, especially when they give a caloric value which sounds reasonable and it turns out that it’s only for half of the item.

Fortunately, food nutrition labels may soon be getting a makeover with the help of a new program designed to make it easier for you to pick healthy packaged items at your local grocery store. This program is called Smart choice and companies such as Coca-Cola, Kraft, Kellogg, and Wal-mart have already agreed to participate. Participation in this program isn’t mandatory for food producers although it does show that the company is committed to promoting healthier choices.

The Smart Choice program will use an easier to read type of food nutrition label called the Smart Choice label on foods that meet certain standardized nutritional guidelines. These Smart Choice labels when prominently displayed on packages will show that the particular food product has met certain nutritional standards and will be easier to read and interpret than traditional food nutrition labels. The goal is to help consumers make healthier choices without having to struggle to read the fine print found on the ingredient labels of most products today.

What standards does a product have to meet in order to earn Smart Choice food nutrition labels? There are certain set requirements that a food must contain less than a certain amount of “bad components” such as trans fats, saturated fats, sodium, cholesterol, and sugars. They must also have certain minimum levels of “good nutrients” such as vitamins, minerals, and fiber. The Smart Choice labels will also display calorie content, serving size, and servings per container.

Although the new Smart Choice labels may not completely replace traditional labeling practices, it may make it easier for the time-strapped shopper to make healthy selections without the necessity of reading the fine print on traditional food nutrition labels.

You should start to see Smart Choice food nutrition labels appearing on products sometime in the middle of 2009.

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