The First Lady Announces Updates to Nutrition Fact Labels

The First Lady Announces Updates to Nutrition Fact Labels


Female Speaker: Thank
you so much, Secretary Sebelius. I’m really delighted to
be joining all of you for today’s “Let’s Move”
announcement, in which FDA is unveiling our proposed
changes to a new and improved — a more
user-friendly version of the Nutrition Facts label. But before I walk through
our proposed changes, I always want to join
Secretary Sebelius and take a moment to thank
First Lady Michelle Obama for her continued
commitment to encouraging Americans to live
healthier lifestyles, and to recognize, of course,
the fouryear anniversary of the “Let’s
Movie” initiative. For 20 years, we’ve relied
on the now-icon Nutrition Facts label to help us
make informed food choices when deciding what to eat. When it was first
introduced back in 1994, this landmark label
provided the American consumer for the first
time with the uniform information about the
nutritional content of the foods. Since then, we’ve gained
a better understanding of the relationship between
what we eat and many serious chronic diseases
affecting millions of Americans. For example, we know that
eating more calories than needed to maintain our
body weight, coupled with a lack of physical
activity, is a primary risk factor for obesity in
the general population. FDA experts relied on data
from a variety of sources, including the Institute of
Medicine, to design this new label. Let me highlight some of
the proposed changes. First, sugar. We know that, as a nation,
we eat too much added sugar. While some of those sugars
occur naturally in foods, much of it is added. The new label would
provide more information about sugars in food by
now indicating when a food has added sugar. And why does this
really matter? Because added sugars
contribute to a substantial portion of
American calories, but don’t really provide
much else in the way of nutrients. This has major
implications for maintaining a
healthy body weight. We believe that requiring
added sugars to be listed separately on the
Nutrition Facts panel will better allow consumers
to identify and compare products with added sugar,
and enable them to make better choices. We also hope this change
will motivate the food industry to reformulate
its products. As many of you may know,
this occurred back in 2006, when FDA required
food producers to add information about trans
fats in the label. When Americans have better
options, they can make healthier choices,
and we all win. So now, let’s talk
about how much we eat. In many cases, people are
now eating amounts that are very different from
the serving sizes that the FDA first put in
place back in 1994. And I should not that our
official definition for “serving size” is a
reference amount. It reflects how much we
actually eat when serving ourselves. And for this reference
amount to be useful to the consumer, it has to be
close to what the average person would
typically eat. So, contrary to what many
may think, serving sizes on food packages are not
recommended portions. We also know that package
size affects what people eat, and that people are
likely to eat or drink all of the contents of certain
packaged foods all in one sitting. For packaged foods and
beverages that are typically consumed in
one sitting, we propose labeling all of them as a
single serving size and declaring calorie and
nutrient information for the entire package. For example, a can of
ready-to-eat soup is usually consumed as
a single serving. For packages that are
larger and could be consumed either as a
single or multiple servings, manufacturers
would have to provide a dual column. This label would indicate
both per-serving and per-package calorie and
nutrient information. And this way, people will
know how many calories and nutrients they are
consuming if, in fact, they eat or drink the
entire amount at one time. And it might be surprising
to learn that, in this day and age, there still are
some nutrients that people simply aren’t
getting enough of. We’ve known for some time
that potassium and vitamin D are important nutrients
for health and significant for maintaining
healthy lifestyles. Potassium can help lower
blood pressure, while vitamin D is a key
nutrient for helping to promote healthy bone
development and general health. But what’s new is that
current data show that certain population groups
are not getting enough of them. Therefore, we’re proposing
that these nutrients be required elements that are
listed on the Nutrition Facts label, along with
calcium and iron, which have been required
for some time. And vitamins A and C,
which are currently required, could be
listed voluntarily. Finally, we’re proposing
changes to some daily values, which are intended
to be a guide for how much of a particular nutrient a
person should consume each day or, in the case of
things like sodium, an upper limit for the day. The daily values are used
to determine the percent daily value that you
see on the label. The percent daily value
helps you see how much of the daily value one
serving of a particular packaged food contributes. We’ve determined through
our scientific research that some of these
numbers should change. While the upper limit
for sodium will decrease slightly to be in
line with current recommendations, data show
that daily targets for dietary fiber and calcium
should, in fact, increase somewhat. So, finally, let’s see
what’s changed about the layout of the Nutrition
Facts label itself. You’ll see that
information about calories and serving size really
jumps out at you much more than it did before. On the other hand, we’ve
actually removed certain information, such as
calories from fat. And that’s because we’ve
learned that total fat is less important than the
type of fat that you eat. And these are very
important changes. And our goal here is to
design a label that is easier to read, and
one that consumers can understand. This proposal is the
culmination of years of research study and
requests for public input. We’ve welcomed the
comments we’ve received from experts and consumers
alike to guide us towards a label that we feel will
provide people with the information that they
want and that they need. It’s clear that the
benefits will far outweigh the costs. We believe these proposed
updates to the Nutrition Facts label will help in
improving public health, incorporating the latest
nutrition recommendations to reduce the risks of
chronic disease, such as cardiovascular disease,
obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes,
and stroke. And we realize that
the label alone won’t magically change
how America eats. But we hope that once
consumers decide to implement changes in
their diet that lead to healthier lifestyles, it
will provide them with the tools to be successful. So, thank you. And I’d now like to turn
to Shanice Bryant, a mother of four and also a
grandmother, to talk about how this matters
to families. [applause] Shanice Bryant:
Good morning. My name is Shanice Bryant
Milton , and I’m a wife, a head-start mom,
and a grandmother. Keeping my family healthy
is important to me. I want my children and my
grandchild to have the best shot at success
in the future. But with the limited time
and a limited budget, cooking healthy food
isn’t always easy. That’s why I’m so grateful
for the “No Kid Hungry” campaign and their
“Cooking Matters” program. They took me around the
grocery store and told me how to read food labels,
how to buy more fruits and vegetables, and about
eating whole grains. The best part of learning
that I can feed my family a healthy, home-cooked
meal on just $10. I was shocked. Because of — because of
“Cooking Matters,” my kids are eating and actually
liking brown rice and whole-wheat bread. We are — we are grilling
and baking food instead of frying it. And we now know that half
our plates should have — should be filled with
fruits and vegetables. And when we made a simple
change, my kids actually lost weight. My son lost 11 pounds. Another great payoff to
living a healthier — another great payoff to
living healthier is being here today. I’m incredibly honored to
introduce the First Lady of the United States — [laughter] Mrs. Michelle Obama. [applause] Her passion — her passion
and dedication has made a huge difference for my
family and for so many families across
the country. Thank you. [applause] The First Lady:
Thank you so much. Shanice Bryant: Thank you.>>The First Lady: Good
morning, everyone. It’s great to
have you all here. Let me start by thanking
Shanese for that very kind introduction and for
her wonderful remarks. Let me just say, Shanese,
when we heard in the back that you were a
grandmother, everybody was like, really? She’s a grandmother? (laughter) We thought
you were a teenager. (laughter) See what
eating healthy does? (laughter) But it’s
great to have you here. Thank you so much for
working so hard to keep your family in
shape and healthy. We’re very proud of
you, very proud of you. I also want to thank
Secretary Sebelius and Commissioner Hamburg
for their outstanding leadership as well
as your entire teams. It takes a whole lot of
people to get all of this done. And we are grateful for
you all, your leadership and for their efforts. Thank you so much for
being here today. (applause) And we are also joined by
one of my dear friends and a fabulous advocate,
Rachael Ray. Rachael, where — Rachael! There you are. (applause) Rachael Ray,
who has done so much great work for Let’s Move. Yes! Thank you, Rachael. We’re going to do
something fun shortly, you ready?>>Rachael Ray: Ready.>>The First Lady: All
right, I’ll wear my flat shoes for you. (laughter) And of course,
I want to thank all of you — the parents, the
advocates, the industry leaders who worked so hard
to make this day possible. Congratulations. This is a good day, it’s
a great announcement. And back when we first
launched Let’s Move four years ago, all of us here
today were driven by a simple belief: that
parents deserve to have the information they need
to make healthy choices for their kids. And this isn’t a
particularly radical idea; in fact, it seems
pretty obvious. But the truth is that
too often, it’s nearly impossible to get the most
basic facts about the food we buy for our families. For example, how many of
you have at some point in your life made a statement
that you were going to eat better? Maybe you wanted to lose a
little weight, maybe you wanted to improve your
family’s nutrition, maybe there were health issues
in your family that required you to
watch what you ate. Whatever the reason, you
resolved to read those labels and only buy foods
that you believed would be good for you
and your kids. So you marched into the
supermarket, you picked up a can or a box of
something, you squinted at that little tiny label, and you were totally and utterly lost. So there you stood, alone
in some aisle in a store, the clock ticking away at
the precious little time remaining to complete your
weekly grocery shopping, and all you could do
was scratch your head, confused and bewildered,
and wonder, is there too much sugar in
this product? Is 50 percent of the daily
allowance of riboflavin a good thing or a bad thing? And how on Earth could
this teeny little package contain five
whole servings? This stream of questions
and worries running through your head when all
you really wanted to know was, should I be
eating this or not? Is this good for
my kids or not? And if it is healthy, how
much of it should I be eating? But unless you had a
thesaurus, a calculator, a microscope, or a degree in
nutrition, you were out of luck. So you felt defeated, and
you just gave up and went back to buying the same
stuff you always buy. And that’s a familiar
scenario for far too many families and parents
trying to do the right thing for their kids — and it’s simply not acceptable. As consumers and as
parents, we have a right to understand what’s in
the food we’re feeding our families. Because that’s really the
only way that we can make informed choices — by
having clear, accurate information. And ultimately, that’s what today’s announcement is all about. As you’ve heard, today,
for the first time since the nutrition label was
developed two decades ago, we’re overhauling these
labels to make them easier to read and understand. And this is a major
undertaking involving folks from across the
country, from the FDA to the food industry to
advocates throughout communities in
this country. Because a lot has changed
in the past twenty years. Just consider all the new
information we’ve learned about nutrition and
healthy eating during that time period. Not to mention, this label
appears on roughly 700,000 products. But in the end, our
guiding principle here is simple: that you as a
parent and a consumer should be able to walk
into a grocery store, pick an item off the shelf, and
tell whether it’s good for your family. To achieve this goal, in
the coming months, the FDA will be soliciting
comments from the public on the two possible
options that you see behind me. Now, I know there will be
many opinions on what this label should look like,
but I think that we all can agree that families
deserve more and better information about
the food they eat. And it’s important to note
that no matter what the final version looks like,
the new label will allow you to immediately spot
the calorie count because it will be in large font,
and not buried in the fine print. You’ll also learn more
about where the sugar in the food comes from —
like whether the sugar in your yogurt was
added during processing or whether it comes from
ingredients like fruits. This is what you will get
from the label of the future. This will be the new norm
in providing consumers with information about
the food we buy and eat. So this is a huge deal,
which is why everybody is here. (laughter) And it’s going
to make a big difference for families across
this country. So today, I want to end
as I started by truly thanking the FDA and
everyone else involved in this important effort. I am excited to see all
the comments that come in over the coming months. And I look forward to
celebrating the final label, and then ultimately
seeing it on grocery shelves across the country
in the years to come. So congratulations,
you all. Great work. Let’s keep pushing. There is more to do. As Secretary Sebelius
said, we are starting to see some change. We are nowhere near the
end of this road, but with every little bit that
we do we make a huge difference. So congratulations once
again, and keep up the great work. Thank you so much. (applause)