New food labels would highlight calories and sugar

Those "Nutrition Facts" labels on nearly every food package in grocery stores are getting a new look.

Calories would be in larger, bolder type, and consumers for the first time would know whether foods had added sugars under label changes being proposed by the Obama administration.

When it comes to packaged food labels right now, information isn't always as simple as it looks. The calories are based on portion size but listed portion sizes are often much smaller than real life servings.

Upstate University Hospital dietician Julie Mellen says the half cup portion that ice cream calories are currently based on is misleading.

"I'm instructing clients, if you're having half a cup here's what you're eating but in reality if you're eating a cup, which is a more realistic serving size, you're going to double what's on that food label," said Mellen.

Like many shoppers, Deb Brennan looks at food labels when she shops at Nichols Supermarket in Liverpool. Brennan said more realistic serving sizes and calorie information on the new labels would be a good dose of reality for many people as they look at snack and meal options.

"We need to be more aware of what we're eating and the size portion. We get into a habit and we're not really paying attention," said Brennan.

The new labels will also give more information on added sugars in packaged foods.

"There's sugars on there but it doesn't differentiate between naturally occurring sugars like sugars from fruit and added sugar on the label so they will include that," said Mellen.

Future labels may also put calorie information in larger text and have additional nutritional information. As Sharron Mulherin and Gabrielle Bennett shopped today, they liked the idea of knowing more about what sugars had been put into their food.

"I think it's more about what we're eating. I feel strongly about that. What we're eating more than the portion size," said Bennett.

"If its healthier for you, then the portion size isn't as important," said Mulherin.

The new nutrition labels are likely several years away.