Newswise — Washington, D.C., Feb. 27, 2014 — American Heart Association CEO Nancy Brown made the following comments today on the Food and Drug Administration’s proposed rules for food nutrition labeling and serving sizes:
“Eating healthy is a habit all Americans need to have, and the FDA’s proposed new nutrition labels will help put that goal within reach. By arming consumers with more knowledge about nutritional content, calories and serving sizes, this new labeling information takes an important step toward improving the health of all Americans.
Now when Americans pull a product from the supermarket shelf, they will have a clear idea of how much sugar that product really contains. Updated FDA labels will require companies to provide details about how much sugar in food is naturally occurring and whether sugar has been added by the manufacturer. Americans have too much added sugar in their diets, and making them more aware of the total amounts of added sugars is a huge step forward. This new line on the label will help consumers to understand and make better choices, and we are pleased that the FDA has proposed this significant change.
It’s no secret that the serving sizes currently listed on food products do not accurately reflect what Americans really eat. The FDA’s proposal would change the “Reference Amounts Customarily Consumed,” or “RACCS,” in 17 food categories, as well as prominently identify the calories on labels. This will help people better understand how many calories they actually consume, especially if they plan to eat all the food in a container or package.
Moreover, we are encouraged that the FDA has made a small move in the right direction by lowering the Daily Value for Sodium to 2300 mg -- the amount recommended in the current Dietary Guidelines for Americans. However, we believe there is more to do. There is strong scientific evidence that indicates lowering sodium intake can result in significant reductions in blood pressure. Consequently, the association will continue to recommend sodium intake to be limited to 1,500 milligrams a day. We intend to work with the FDA, during this 90-day comment period and beyond if need be, to highlight the increased benefits from further sodium reductions, and to advocate for stronger action.
Finally, we applaud the agency’s requirement that potassium, a key nutrient, will now be listed on food labels. We know that diets high in potassium help decrease the negative impact of sodium. This is especially true for African-Americans, who consume less potassium, tend to be more sensitive to sodium and have higher prevalence of high blood pressure than other people.
These new labels will empower consumers with a valuable source of nutrition information, and the American Heart Association commends the FDA for proposing these changes. In the coming weeks, the association will submit more detailed comments on the proposed labeling and serving size rules.”