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Trump Is Undoing Michelle Obama’s Work to Improve Food Labels


SheKnows Editorial

First lady Michelle Obama was known for lots of things — her inspiring speeches, formidable law career and incredible grace under pressure to name a few — but her passion project was making sure American kids were getting access to healthy foods.

The former FLOTUS also wanted to make sure that everyday Americans (you know, those of us without an advanced degree in nutrition) could easily make informed choices about the food we buy with just a glance at the label on the side of the package.

But under Trump’s administration, the FDA has indefinitely delayed the rollout of an updated nutrition facts label that would do the following super-helpful things for consumers: make calorie counts on packaging larger and easier to see, itemize sugar so people could tell how much was added and how much was naturally occurring, and change standard serving sizes to reflect what people actually eat (because honestly, who stops at 11 Doritos?).

More: Michelle Obama wants you to eat your greens

It’s hard to see why there would be an issue with making nutrition labels easier to read. So, who benefits from the delay? Not to get too conspiracy theorist here, but basically, the FDA is favoring the needs of large corporations (aka “big food”) over those of everyday people like you and me, who are trying to make healthier choices.

Food lobbying groups who are paid huge amounts of money to represent the interests of major manufacturers have been pushing the FDA to delay or modify the nutrition label requirements almost since FLOTUS’s changes were announced. Never mind the fact that the changes were scheduled to go into effect more than a year from now, on July 26, 2018.

How much time does a major company really need to change their labels? I mean, if we can have what’s basically a flavor-of-the-month Oreo that follows the latest Instagram trends (pumpkin spice, Peeps, you name it!), which requires not only developing, testing and producing an entirely new product, but also designing brand-new packaging, don’t you think such large-scale operations would be adequately prepared to make a simple label modification?

More: First Lady, retailers partner to eliminate food deserts

Unfortunately, Trump and his administration have said they plan to massively cut FDA regulations to make it easier for businesses to sell their products. The idea they’re pushing is that when major corporations flourish, so do the rest of us — a concept that’s known as trickle-down economics (or, in Hillary Clinton’s words, “Trumped-up trickle-down economics”). But this theory has been repeatedly debunked by economists, and when those corporations’ profits come at the expense of Americans’ health and lives, it’s hard to pretend this is all happening with our well-being in mind.

Let’s spell out the depressing capitalist truth here: Putting an emphasis on the negative nutritional values of a food has the potential to discourage customers from buying it (in theory, leading them to healthier purchases), which goes directly against the aims of big businesses.

TL;DR — Michelle Obama, we still need you!

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