Remarks by the First Lady on a Nutrition Facts Label Announcement
11:22 A.M. EST
MRS. OBAMA: Good morning, everyone. It’s great to have you all here. Let me start by thanking Shanese for that very kind introduction and for her wonderful remarks. Let me just say, Shanese, when we heard in the back that you were a grandmother, everybody was like, really? She’s a grandmother? (Laughter.) We thought you were a teenager. (Laughter.) See what eating healthy does? (Laughter.) But it’s great to have you here. Thank you so much for working so hard to keep your family in shape and healthy. We’re very proud of you, very proud of you.
I also want to thank Secretary Sebelius and Commissioner Hamburg for their outstanding leadership as well as your entire teams. It takes a whole lot of people to get all of this done. And we are grateful for you all, your leadership and for their efforts. Thank you so much for being here today. (Applause.)
And we are also joined by one of my dear friends and a fabulous advocate, Rachael Ray. Rachael, where -- Rachael! There you are. (Applause.) Rachael Ray, who has done so much great work for Let’s Move. Yes! Thank you, Rachael. We’re going to do something fun shortly, you ready?
MS. RAY: Ready.
MRS. OBAMA: All right, I’ll wear my flat shoes for you. (Laughter.) And of course, I want to thank all of you -- the parents, the advocates, the industry leaders who worked so hard to make this day possible. Congratulations. This is a good day, it’s a great announcement.
And back when we first launched Let’s Move four years ago, all of us here today were driven by a simple belief: that parents deserve to have the information they need to make healthy choices for their kids. And this isn’t a particularly radical idea; in fact, it seems pretty obvious. But the truth is that too often, it’s nearly impossible to get the most basic facts about the food we buy for our families.
For example, how many of you have at some point in your life made a statement that you were going to eat better? Maybe you wanted to lose a little weight, maybe you wanted to improve your family’s nutrition, maybe there were health issues in your family that required you to watch what you ate. Whatever the reason, you resolved to read those labels and only buy foods that you believed would be good for you and your kids. So you marched into the supermarket, you picked up a can or a box of something, you squinted at that little tiny label, and you were totally and utterly lost.
So there you stood, alone in some aisle in a store, the clock ticking away at the precious little time remaining to complete your weekly grocery shopping, and all you could do was scratch your head, confused and bewildered, and wonder, is there too much sugar in this product? Is 50 percent of the daily allowance of riboflavin a good thing or a bad thing? And how on Earth could this teeny little package contain five whole servings?
This stream of questions and worries running through your head when all you really wanted to know was, should I be eating this or not? Is this good for my kids or not? And if it is healthy, how much of it should I be eating? But unless you had a thesaurus, a calculator, a microscope, or a degree in nutrition, you were out of luck. So you felt defeated, and you just gave up and went back to buying the same stuff you always buy.
And that’s a familiar scenario for far too many families and parents trying to do the right thing for their kids -- and it’s simply not acceptable. As consumers and as parents, we have a right to understand what’s in the food we’re feeding our families. Because that’s really the only way that we can make informed choices -- by having clear, accurate information. And ultimately, that’s what today’s announcement is all about.
As you’ve heard, today, for the first time since the nutrition label was developed two decades ago, we’re overhauling these labels to make them easier to read and understand. And this is a major undertaking involving folks from across the country, from the FDA to the food industry to advocates throughout communities in this country. Because a lot has changed in the past twenty years. Just consider all the new information we’ve learned about nutrition and healthy eating during that time period. Not to mention, this label appears on roughly 700,000 products.
But in the end, our guiding principle here is simple: that you as a parent and a consumer should be able to walk into a grocery store, pick an item off the shelf, and tell whether it’s good for your family. To achieve this goal, in the coming months, the FDA will be soliciting comments from the public on the two possible options that you see behind me.
Now, I know there will be many opinions on what this label should look like, but I think that we all can agree that families deserve more and better information about the food they eat. And it’s important to note that no matter what the final version looks like, the new label will allow you to immediately spot the calorie count because it will be in large font, and not buried in the fine print. You’ll also learn more about where the sugar in the food comes from -- like whether the sugar in your yogurt was added during processing or whether it comes from ingredients like fruits. This is what you will get from the label of the future. This will be the new norm in providing consumers with information about the food we buy and eat.
So this is a huge deal, which is why everybody is here. (Laughter.) And it’s going to make a big difference for families across this country. So today, I want to end as I started by truly thanking the FDA and everyone else involved in this important effort. I am excited to see all the comments that come in over the coming months. And I look forward to celebrating the final label, and then ultimately seeing it on grocery shelves across the country in the years to come.
So congratulations, you all. Great work. Let’s keep pushing. There is more to do. As Secretary Sebelius said, we are starting to see some change. We are nowhere near the end of this road, but with every little bit that we do we make a huge difference.
So congratulations once again, and keep up the great work. Thank you so much. (Applause.)
11:29 A.M. EST