Four Nutrients Should Be on Food Labels

EVANSTON, Ill., Oct. 15 (UPI) — Highlighting nutrients of most concern — calories, saturated fat, trans fat and sodium — may best improve U.S. food labeling, health officials say.

A report from the Institute of Medicine says given the limited space on food package fronts and the information already available in the Nutrition Facts panel on the backs of all products, it is not crucial for rating systems and symbols to focus on other nutritious components, such as cholesterol, fiber, added sugars, or vitamins.

Ellen Wartella, committee chair for the report and professor of psychology at Northwestern University, in Evanston, Ill., says a multitude of nutrition rating, or guidance, systems have been developed by food manufacturers, government agencies, nutrition group, and others to help consumers quickly compare products’ nutritional attributes.

Ratings are typically communicated to shoppers through symbols placed prominently on food packaging, usually on the front, but unlike the Nutrition Facts panel, these rating systems and symbols are unregulated and different systems focus on different nutrients.

“Calories, saturated fat, trans fats, and sodium present the most serious diet-related risks to people’s health, and many Americans consume far too much of these nutrients,” Wartella says in a statement. “As Americans grapple with increasing rates of serious health problems connected to their diets, it’s important that the nutritional information they receive is clear, consistent, and well-grounded in nutrition science.”

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