The Edmond Sun

Opinion

March 1, 2014

Los Angeles Times: From the FDA, a mixed bag of food labels

LOS ANGELES — The U.S. Food and Drug administration broke new ground in consumer protection when it required, more than 20 years ago, the now-familiar nutrition labels on virtually every bit of packaged food. Now, the labels are being revamped — in ways that have both benefits and downsides.

One of the most noticeable changes — and the least justifiable — would be the addition of a new sub-category: The number of grams of added sugar in the food, in addition to the existing measure of total sugar.

But why make such a change? Doctors and dietitians have declared that there is no nutritional difference between naturally occurring sugars such as fructose (in fruit juice) and the sugars that are added. All are processed the same way by the body; the only difference, some scientists have found, is when the sugar occurs in a whole, unprocessed food such as an apple.

The same isn’t true, though, of the sugar in soda or that in apple juice, though the proposed labels would imply otherwise. If people want to avoid added sugar, they just need to look at the ingredients list.

The FDA proposal is on firmer footing when it suggests listing the number of calories, the number of servings in a container and the size of each serving in more prominent type. The number of calories is the number most consumers want to check, so it should be easy to locate and read. Similarly, some shoppers think that the number of calories listed is the total for the package rather than for the serving size; they don’t notice that even a relatively small bag of chips might contain two or three servings, although that information is included on the label. A consumer who is not looking closely might think he is eating a 100-calorie snack when he is actually consuming more like 300 calories.

For the same reason, the FDA wants packages of food that might be consumed by one person at a sitting to be relabeled as a single serving, with the total calorie count. In other words, a 20-ounce bottle of soda, which most people probably drink at a sitting, could no longer be counted as 2 1/2 servings.

The goal is a good one: To keep consumers from being misled. But the proposed change on these smaller packages would mean that there are no real standards of what constitutes a serving. A 12-ounce can of Coke would be designated a single serving, as would a 20-ounce bottle of Coke — which is at least as confusing as the current system. Also, one of the chief obstacles in whittling the nation’s waistline is the great American food portion.

Once labels say that 20 ounces of soda is a single serving, consumers might start thinking of that as a standard, reasonable size. They shouldn’t.

 

1
Text Only
Opinion
  • Technology that will stimulate journalism’s future is now here

    To say technology has changed the newspaper media industry is understating the obvious. While much discussion focuses on how we read the news, technology is changing the way we report the news. The image of a reporter showing up to a scene with a pen and a pad is iconic but lost to the vestiges of time.
    I am asked frequently about the future of newspapers and, in particular, what does a successful future look like. For journalists, to be successful is to command multiple technologies and share news with readers in new and exciting ways.

    July 23, 2014

  • New Orleans features its own “Running of the Bulls”

    On July12, the streets of the Warehouse District of New Orleans were filled with thousands of young men who were seeking to avoid being hit with plastic bats wielded by women on roller skates as part of the annual “Running of the Bulls” that takes place in New Orleans.
    The event is based on the “Running of the Bulls” that occurs in Pamplona, Spain, that is  part of an annual occurrence in which a group of bulls rampage through the streets of Pamplona while men run from them to avoid being gored by their sharp horns. That event was introduced to the English-speaking world by Ernest Hemingway, who included scenes from it in his critically acclaimed 1926 novel “The Sun also Rises.”

    July 22, 2014

  • OTHER VIEW: Newsday: Lapses on deadly diseases demand explanation

    When we heard that the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had created a potentially lethal safety risk by improperly sending deadly pathogens — like anthrax — to other laboratories around the country, our first reaction was disbelief.

    July 22, 2014

  • Holding government accountable for open meeting violations

    A few weeks ago I wrote about the recent success of three important government transparency proposals which will go into law this year.

    July 21, 2014

  • GUEST OPINION — Oklahoma GOP voters want educational choices

    A Braun Research survey released in January showed that Oklahoma voters — Republicans, Democrats, and Independents alike — favor parental choice in education.

    July 21, 2014

  • HEY HINK: IRS interferes with citizens’ rights of free speech

    The patient is gravely ill. We have detected traces of a deadly venom in the bloodstream. We don’t know how widespread the poison is, but we know, if not counteracted, toxins of this kind can rot the patient’s vital organs and could ultimately prove fatal.

    July 19, 2014

  • 130408_NT_BEA_good kids We're raising a generation of timid kids

    A week ago, a woman was charged with leaving her child in the car while she went into a store. Her 11-year-old child. This week, a woman was arrested for allowing her 9-year-old daughter to go to the park alone. Which raises just one question: America, what the heck is wrong with you?

    July 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • RedBlueAmerica: What should the U.S. do about illegal immigrant children?

    The crisis along the southern U.S. border has politicians and immigration officials scrambling. More than 52,000 children, mostly from Central American nations, have arrived so far this year. The Department of Homeland Security is running out of space to hold them all.
    President Barack Obama is asking Congress for $3.7 billion in borrowed money from taxpayers to cover the growing “care, feeding and transportation costs of unaccompanied children and family groups” when our own veterans are not taken care of. Texas Gov. Rick Perry criticized the president’s plan, saying more money should go toward securing the border.

    July 17, 2014

  • VA scandal highlights the need to change Pentagon spending priorities

    The ongoing Department of Veterans Affairs scandal raises an important question: When our veterans are being denied access to basic health care, why is the Pentagon squandering billions of dollars on programs that do not benefit our military forces? Is there a link in organization attitudes?

    July 16, 2014

  • For better politics, it’s time for some raging moderates

    Like more than 20 percent of my fellow Californians, I am now classified as a no-party-preference voter, registered to vote but with no affiliation to any of the state’s political parties.
    I am for lower taxes and for marriage equality. I am tough on crime and I am anti-abortion. I believe that a pathway to citizenship is a necessary part of immigration reform and that student test scores should be a critical component of teacher evaluations.

    July 15, 2014

Poll

If the Republican runoff for the 5th District congressional seat were today, which candidate would you vote for?

Patrice Douglas
Steve Russell
Undecided
     View Results