Food Labeling Debate

It is no secret that serving sizes have increased in recent decades. Last year I compared a recipe in the new edition of The Joy of Cooking with the same recipe in a much older edition. Same ingredients, same quantities of ingredients, but the serving size was reduced from 8 to 6.

According to this New York Times article, the FDA is already making moves to require that nutritional labels be posted on the FRONT of packages and they’re also considering requiring that food companies adjust serving sizes to be more in line with what Americans actually eat.

I’ll admit, I get irritated when I consume something that’s supposedly a single serving only to learn it’s actually two or three servings. Or cereal. Have you ever seen how small an actual serving size of cereal? It ranges from 1/4 cup for some types/brands of granola to a cup and a quarter for some of the flaky types.

I’m not so sure that pandering to Americans’ desire for bigger servings is necessarily the way to go. Yes, it’s realistic, but if we want to educate Americans on more appropriate serving sizes, this doesn’t do the trick. Furthermore, isn’t it discouraging for those who are trying to cut back? If you look at a nutritional label that has a bigger serving size and more calories, and you’re trying to cut back, it could be discouraging. Yes, logic would say “just don’t eat a full serving size” but Americans don’t think that way–we’d tend to feel deprived that we can’t even eat a “full serving” and stay within our calorie range.

So… what are your thoughts?

Should nutritional labels more accurately reflect what a “typical” American consumes? Or should nutritional labels educate Americans on what should be a serving size?

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3 responses to “Food Labeling Debate

  1. I like what I’ve been recently which is: calories per serving and calories for the whole thing.

    I miss calories being on the menu’s in nyc, it was the law and was really helpful.

    Sometimes I think “well if it has a label…and I’m questioning how much is too much with this item… should i even eat it?”

  2. I thought the FDA was encouraging Americans to eat in a more healthy fashion. With the obisity rate in children on the rise and the percentage of morbidly obese Americans, why would we encourage them to eat more by making the singe serving size larger? I don’t understand the thinking behind that decision. A single size should reflect what is an appropriate amount of food not what we, as fat Americans, want! Why give in to our basest desires? Food, more food, more food, it’s a chant that we shoud discourage.

  3. What Liz said. I just made myself one serving of steel-cut oatmeal, and though it looked small, I savored it and am satisfied. I think it’s possible to retrain and educate people on what they eat.

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