Experience Life Magazine

Kathie Swift, MS, RD, Shares Her Food Label Wish List

The integrative nutritionist shares her top five recommendations for the FDA’s revised nutrition labels.

News broke last week that the FDA is planning to update nutrition labels for the first time since they were introduced 20 years ago. What those revisions will be, exactly, and when they will be released are yet to be determined, but many nutritionists and health experts are weighing in on what they think should be included. From making calories more prominent to noting added sugar, their suggestions run the gamut.

Kathie Swift, RD

Integrative nutritionist Kathie Swift, MS, RD, shares her wish list for the soon-to-be-revised nutrition labels.

In light of the proposed updated, we asked one of Experience Life‘s go-to experts, Kathie Swift, MS, RD, integrative clinical nutritionist and education director for the Food as Medicine nutrition-training program, to share her wish list for the updated labels. Here are the top five things she’d like to see on the new label:

1. Position “Front and Center”: Time-starved consumers need to “get the facts” on the front and center of the label so the nutrition headline jumps out at them and influences their purchasing decision.

2. Reduce the seduction of junk food by color-coding the the front of the label with a symbol that indicates both energy and nutrient density (RED = high calorie, low nutrients; YELLOW = high calorie, moderate nutrients; GREEN = high nutrient density)

3. Own up to the toxic ingredients in products. GMOs, colorings/dyes, unsafe additives, nanoparticles — the list goes on — should all be identified on the ingredient label and, again, in a cautionary yellow color.

4. Be sensible about serving sizes. The label should include realistic serving sizes and also dish up servings per container. Some muffins, for example, list 1/2 serving — now, who eats 1/2 of a muffin?

5. Get real. Consumers do not understand grams, so translate them into teaspoons (for instance, 8 grams of sugar equals about 2 teaspoons). Additionally, nutritionists have wanted to expand sugar(s) into natural and added sugar for years. (But speaking of “natural”… to be continued as to how that will be defined!)

(MORE: How Healthy People Decode Labels)

TELL US: What do you want to see on the new labels? Comment below or tweet us at @ExperienceLife. 

2 Comment to Kathie Swift, MS, RD, Shares Her Food Label Wish List

  • CrisisMaven says:

    The single most important fact people would need to know to make informed dietary choices is the fact that not fats are turned into (body) fats, but carbohydrates. So low fat food is inviting people to get fatter, not leaner. New food labels can be as accurate as possible, people will still draw the wrong conclusions. The problem with the FDA criteria is that they are scientifically incorrect and therefore misleading. Carbohydrates (sugars, starch etc.) generate all the fat in our bodies. They are either used as an energy source either right away, or, if we eat more calories than we needed in that day, are stored as fat. Only the carbohydrates are the source of body fats. All fats can only be burnt up as energy or else be discharged again. They cannot be stored. This is the single most important factor the FDA needed to clarify to get people to eat healthier. Since the beginning of the low-fat craze obesity has sky-rocketed. And not by accident.

  • Michelle says:

    Hi agree with all of the above! I like listing GMO’s in yellow, as cautionary. Also, GMO’s should be mandatory on all labels!

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