Prepared Foods April 11, 2005 enewsletter

The FDA wants stakeholder input on two early proposals aimed at updating the daily recommended food portion sizes. Americans eat larger portions today than when the portion sizes were last defined, and the FDA wants to give consumers a better idea of how many calories are in the portions of food they eat.

The FDA unveiled the two advanced notices of proposed rulemaking in response to recommendations made by the Obesity Working Group last year.

The agency also is asking industry and consumer groups to comment on changing the nutrition facts panel so calories are more prominent. The FDA wants to know how changing the nutrition facts panel would change the way consumers use the information to make food choices. The FDA asks if the font size of calorie information should be increased.

The FDA also asks for data on how consumers use the information about calories from fat, and if that listing affects their choice of food. The agency also wants to know what type of data is needed to determine whether the information about calories from fat should be removed from the nutrition panel.

The FDA wants to know if displaying calories more prominently would encourage more competition based on the calorie content of food.

In the ANPR on updating the recommended amount for consumption, the FDA asks how the agency should take into account newer data on food consumption habits.

"Would consumers think that an increase in serving size on food labels means more of the food should be eaten?" the FDA asks. "What additional education efforts should be provided to consumers to avoid such a conclusion?"

The FDA asks if rulemaking would be necessary to ensure that packages that can be reasonably consumed in one sitting should show the nutrition information for the entire package. The agency also wants to know if manufacturers will switch to larger packages to avoid this requirement.

"If nutrient amount per serving size...and per package were listed side-by-side in separate column, how would this affect consumers' ability to understand the label?" the agency questions.