NEW HAVEN — U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal and U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-3rd District, appeared at a popular New Haven cafe Tuesday to call for more changes to the nutrition labeling standards currently under review by the Food and Drug Administration.
As patrons at Romeo and Cesare's market snacked on bruschetta, arugula pizza and other Italian treats, Blumenthal and DeLauro said the FDA should take further steps to ensure that foods are labeled transparently. The lawmakers said existing food labels can be misleading to anyone who isn't a nutritional expert and contribute to obesity and diet problems.
"Transparency is crucial for parents trying to make smart choices for their families," DeLauro said. "Consumers want a more accurate representation of sugar, caffeine and artificial colors and sweeteners."
Blumenthal and DeLauro both said nutritional labeling has become a serious health issue.
"Americans are more health conscious than ever before, and Americans are more misled than ever before by food labels," Blumenthal said. "The cluttered and confusing labels on food packaging today have contributed to an epidemic of obesity and diet-related diseases."
In a letter to the FDA dated Aug. 1, Blumenthal and DeLauro called for a number of upgrades to labeling standards. The duo introduced legislation to this effect last year.
"While we are pleased that the Nutrition Facts label has been redesigned and updated to reflect the latest nutrition science, we are disappointed that FDA has remained silent on many critical features," the lawmakers wrote in the letter.
On Tuesday, Blumenthal and DeLauro emphasized one change in particular: listing sugar content in teaspoons rather than grams.
"Americans don't understand what grams are," Blumenthal said. "They understand teaspoons."
DeLauro also focused on a provision that would standardize a front-of-package nutrition label for food products.
Both lawmakers pointed out that important labeling standards have not been updated since 1990. They said that recent changes to the labels open the door for a more comprehensive upgrade.Copyright © 2015, CT Now