The US Food Industry Has Long Buried The Truth About Their Products. Is That Coming To An End?

Step into a grocery store in France and you’re liable to see a green, yellow or red score on the front of most packaged foods: a green “A” for the healthiest, a red “E” for the least nutritious. Zip across the globe to Chile, and that traffic light-like label becomes a stop sign, warning consumers when a food contains a high amount of sugar, salt, saturated fats or calories.

Today, more than a dozen countries require that companies print nutritional labels on the front of food packages – a move that’s come as the rate of diet-related diseases, like hypertension, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke and obesity, increases worldwide.

So far, the United States does not require any front-of-package nutrition labels. But that could soon change. The US Food and Drug Administration is currently developing front-of-package labels that it could require corporations to begin printing as early as 2027. Despite significant opposition from food companies, many of which are drawing on big tobacco’s playbook, the FDA is evaluating different mandatory label designs to determine which is most effective at informing consumers, but also which is legal under US corporate free speech laws.

As emerging research identifies a wide range of health impacts linked to the consumption of ultra-processed food, conversations about nutritional labels are growing more urgent. To date, the labels under consideration by the FDA (and implemented in other countries) mark only “nutrients of concern”, like sugar and sodium – not-ultra processed foods. But many advocates say that should change.

UPFs are industrially formulated products made out of substances extracted from foods, like sugars, salts, hydrogenated fats, bulking agents and starches (think sugary breakfast cereals, microwave dinners, soft drinks and packaged snacks). Today, UPFs make up 73% of the US food supply, according to Northeastern University’s Network Science Institute, and provide the average US adult with more than 60% of their daily calories. But research is increasingly linking UPFs to a whole host of health issues: from cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes to colorectal cancer and depression.

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The Guardian

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