What are the pros and cons of setting the new serving size of a food product on food labels?
The new FDA proposal to change the serving size of packaged food has its advantages and drawbacks. It would be convenient for consumers to have realistic information regarding nutrients at their disposal. Simplifying this section of information on the package will contribute to more informed choices made by the consumers. Many find the idea of listing any added sugars or sweeteners rather fitting (Giacona, 2016, para. 1). It is convenient for those who strive to control their weight to know the exact amount of sugar, sweeteners, and the number of calories in each serving.
On the other hand, for those who do not need to monitor their calorie intake this closely, such a solution could prove to be an inconvenience. The bold and large font that will be used for listing calories and nutrients can be a discomfort for those consumers who do not have to worry about their weight. Giacona (2016) points out that for those who have had problems with obsessive calorie restrictions, the proposed design could prove detrimental (para. 4).
Moreover, the cost of change implementation will be substantial. Also, Giacona (2016) emphasizes that determining the right amount of food in a package based on American eating patterns is not good, as obesity rates are rather high in the U.S (para. 3).
How to determine the nutritional information of the actual serving size if it is different from that given on the food label
The nutritional information of an actual serving size can be easily determined by employing the calculation method suggested by the FDA (Nutrition Labeling; Questions L1 through L153, 2013, para. 1). Firstly, it is necessary to find the category of a product. Secondly, the reference amount should be written down, which is usually given in grams. The appropriate household measure should be selected. Thirdly, it is necessary to calculate the fraction contained in a particular package, which is the nearest to the reference amount. Fourthly, the fraction obtained should be used as a serving size.
Why have beverage manufacturers already made such changes to their labels?
Even though FDA changes will not be implemented for a few years, beverage manufacturers already acknowledged the issue and introduced certain modifications. Packages containing various beverages provide a nutrients label that specifies the number of sugars, sweeteners, etc. This development can be explained by the statistical data provided by the FDA. Statistically speaking, in the U.S., approximately 13 percent of total daily calorie intake comes from added sugars (Changes to the nutrition facts label, n.d., para. 6).
The principal sources of added sugar in the American diet are sweetened beverages, including juice, soft drinks, alcoholic beverages, tea, coffee, energy drinks, sports drinks, desserts, snacks, and sweets, such as jams, candy, syrups, etc. Therefore, beverage manufacturers needed to introduce these changes, raising awareness of consumers regarding their calorie intake. Although the FDA admits that added sugars might constitute a healthy diet, excessive consumption of these substances cannot but hurt one’s health.
In that case, maintaining the necessary calorie intake regime proves difficult. Other nutrients that are crucial for a human organism, such as fiber, minerals, vitamins coupled with excessive intake of added sugars, make it impossible to keep to necessary diet restrictions. Thus, adding a nutrients label to the sweet beverages packages is an important step towards raising people’s awareness concerning the amount of added sugar they consume, which will hopefully lead to acknowledging the need to monitor one’s calorie intake more closely eventually to health improvement.