WASHINGTON - The nutrition facts label has been required on the back of packaged foods for the last 20 years. Now the Food and Drug Administration is planning to update it. Here's what consumers will find today if they turn over their food packages:
Serving size and servings per container. This is the first thing on the label and is designed to help consumers know how much of the nutrients they are consuming. The FDA hasn't said how they will change the label, but they may list all nutrition information by the serving and by the container and adjust recommended serving sizes for some foods.
Calories. The label lists total calories per serving and the calories from fat. With nutrition experts now focused more on calories than on fat, the FDA may put the calorie listing in larger font and remove the amount of calories from fat.
Nutrients that should be limited. They are first on the list and include fat, cholesterol and sodium. The FDA says Americans generally eat these nutrients in adequate amounts, and too much of them can increase the risk of heart disease and other illnesses. Fats are broken down by saturated fats and trans fats, which are the worst for you.
Nutrients that are encouraged. The label then lists the amount of dietary fiber and the percentage of daily recommended values of vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium and iron. The FDA says most Americans don't get enough of these.
Sugars. The label lists the amount of sugars in a package but the government has not recommended a daily value. The amount includes naturally occurring sugars and also added sugars; some health advocates have pushed to add a line just for the added sugars.
Protein. The amount of protein is on the label, but food manufacturers do not have to include the percentage of the daily recommendation unless they claim a food is high in protein. The FDA says that protein intake is not a public health concern for adults and children over the age of four.