Amid many revisions for the panel proposed by the Food and Drug Administration, none stands out more than the heightened emphasis on calorie count. “The ability to determine the caloric content of packaged foods is important for all consumers,” the F.D.A. said by way of explanation. Under the plan, the word “Calories” must be a type size no smaller than 16 points (the size of this column’s headline), with the calorie figure still 50% larger. This emphasis makes the point that calories count and helps level the playing field for food and beverage products.
From a consumer attention perspective, the Nutrition Facts panel is growing in importance. The percentage of consumers who often read a food label rose to 54% in 2008 from 44% in 2002. The baking industry certainly should carefully scrutinize other proposed changes to the panel, including how single servings are defined, and listings for added sugar and sodium. Notwithstanding these other concerns, the calorie content emphasis makes this proposed change a definite win.