FDA considers food label updates to make nutrition facts easier to read

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Do you take time to read labels while you’re rolling through the grocery store aisles?

“Most of the time, yes, because I have gluten issues so I’ve always gotta make sure there’s no gluten in things,” said Angel Merrill.

Now, many big brands and Kroger are making packaging changes to put that kind of information up front.

“We are moving the health and nutrition information to the front of our packaging. We’ve got it in a larger font. We’ve been adding it on the little shelf tags as well,” said John Elliott, Kroger public affairs manager central division.

The Food and Drug Administration is considering changes that would make food labels easier to read. Some of the standards are nearly 20 years old. Recent research showed more Americans are paying attention to nutrition facts than they were 10 years ago, but shoppers still said all the numbers on the labels can be confusing.

One of the measures the FDA is looking into would focus on making serving sizes relevant to the product. For example, if something is typically eaten in one sitting but is broken into 2.5 servings on the label, consumers might miscalculate their calorie consumption.

Kroger store brands make up about one-third of all products on Kroger shelves. Elliott said the company is adding information like calories, fiber amount or sugar free to food types as those products come up for packaging redesign.

“It’s far too expensive to just laterally change a third of the items in our store at once,” said Elliott.

When it comes to cost, some grocers are concerned about another possible change to food labeling. As part of the Affordable Care Act, restaurants must now provide nutrition information.

The FDA is considering extending that rule to foods made inside grocery stores like deli items or the salad bar. The FDA has heard complaints from businesses that creating new labels and researching nutrition facts for in-store items would be expensive and that cost could be passed along to the customer.

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