Proposed changes in nutrition labels

August 1, 2014

Dear Commissioner Hamburg,

As a nutrition educator for PCC Natural Markets (Seattle, Wash.), my job is to help our shoppers select more wholesome and nutritious foods. One of the most important pieces of dietary advice I give is to follow the American Heart Association’s recommendation to consume no more than 5% of calories from added sugars, but unfortunately this information currently is lacking on nutrition labels. I support the FDA’s proposal to require added sugars on nutrition facts panels, in order to make it simpler for shoppers to comply with this important nutrition guideline.

Americans consume a whopping 16% of total calories from added sugars — triple the amount recommended by the AHA and the World Health Organization — but shoppers currently do not have the information available on food labels to make this needed dietary change.

I also support the addition of potassium to the nutrition facts label, but believe that this information would be better placed below sodium, rather than in place of vitamins A and C. Many manufacturers currently place potassium below sodium on their nutrition labels, so consumers already are used to seeing it there. Also, the sodium to potassium ratio is an independent risk factor for heart disease, so it is helpful to have these numbers next to each other on the label for easy comparison.

I agree with the proposal to drop calories from fat, as this is not useful information. Speaking of fats, it also is time to update the regulations for trans fat labeling. Currently, products containing less than 0.5g of trans fats are allowed to state “trans fat free” on the product label, even when they contain harmful partially hydrogenated oils. This is not acceptable.

In summary, I applaud the FDA for taking the time to update the nutrition facts label, which provides valuable information to help shoppers make more informed choices at the supermarket. The addition of added sugars will greatly improve the nutrition facts panel, so please make this a requirement and not voluntary.

Nick Rose, MS

Nutrition Educator

PCC Natural Markets, Seattle, WA

PCC Natural Markets is the largest, consumer-owned natural food retail cooperative in the country, with more than 50,000 members, 10 store locations, and 200 million dollars in annual sales.

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