Nutrition labels will soon show how much sugar is added to the food you're eating


Soon you'll know how much sugar is being added to some foods.

The FDA finalized a new nutrition facts label for packaged foods, which the agency says will help consumers make better informed choices when it comes to what they eat.

Here's a look at what's being added or changed on the label:

The nutrition label changes come after a yearslong campaign by Michelle Obama to help curb obesity, diabetes and other health issues. The First Lady announced the changes Friday, saying it will help families get "the information they need to make healthy choices."

Now you'll know how much sugar you're eating

One of the big changes is including a line for "added sugars" under the line for total sugar that's already on the label.

This will tell people how much sugar occurs naturally in the food they're eating, and how much was added by the manufacturer to make it taste better, the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), which pushed to put added sugars on labels, said in a statement.

CSPI says the average American consumes 23 teaspoons of added sugar every day, but scientific data has found it's difficult to meet nutritional needs and stay within calorie limits if more than 10 percent of the calories you eat in a day come from sugar, the FDA says.

And sugar is in a lot of foods. Most consumers know there's sugar in pop and desserts, but food manufacturers also add sugar to things like salad dressing, bread and pasta sauce, the New York Times says. In fact, a University of North Carolina study found that 60 percent of packaged foods at the grocery store contain some kind of added sugar.

"Besides helping consumers make more informed choices, the new labels should also spur food manufacturers to add less sugar to their products," Michael Jacobson, the president of CSPI, said.

Reaction from food makers

It's taken a long time to get this change, due to pushback from the food industry. Groups and companies, including The Sugar Association, the Grocery Manufacturers Association, and Minnesota-based General Mills opposed the added sugar line, VOX reports.

They argued it doesn't matter if sugar is added or already in the food naturally, and labels already tell consumers what they need to know – the total amount of sugar, NPR says.

But after Friday's announcement, many food industry trade groups said they were satisfied with the changes, the New York Times says. The Grocery Manufacturers Association released a statement saying it will work with the FDA to help consumers learn what the new labels mean.

However, the Sugar Association said it was "disappointed" in the FDA's decision.

"The extraordinary contradictions and irregularities, as well as the lack of scientific justification in this rulemaking process are unprecedented for the FDA. We are concerned that the ruling sets a dangerous precedent that is not grounded in science, and could actually deter us from our shared goal of a healthier America."

Large food makers must start using the new label by July 2018, but smaller companies have another year.

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