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A Bill

Making Nutrition Labels Easier to Decipher

Ingredient labels haven't changed since they were introduced in 1938

Photograph by Jill Fromer/Getty Images

Ingredient labels haven't changed since they were introduced in 1938

H.R. 3147: Food Labeling Modernization Act of 2013

The Essentials

1. Introduced on Sept. 19, the bill would make changes to the packaging of processed foods and drinks. Regulators would create a nutrition key—visual cues and symbols designating how healthful a product is, based on its calories, fat, and other criteria—and manufacturers would have to put the symbols on the front of their products. “You wouldn’t have to be as much of a detective as you shop,” says Michael Jacobson, executive director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, which helped write the bill. Any food labeled “with whole grains” would have to specify its ratio to total grain content. Officials would set a recommended daily intake of sugar, and food with added sugar would have to disclose it on the label. Companies making health benefit claims would have to furnish proof.

2. Ingredient labels would get a redesign to make them easier on the eyes.

Hinman is an associate editor for Bloomberg Businessweek.

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