Nutrition Facts panels for food labels should literally red-flag negative nutrients and generally be easier for consumers to read, according toa new conceptionby the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

CSPI issued a release Dec. 7 critiquing the Nutrition Facts panel and suggesting changes, both to the panel and to regulations on other label claims. These include:

• Using words and/or symbols on the front of packaging to identify negative nutrients like fat and sodium when they appear in the product above threshold amounts.

• Using red type in the actual nutrition facts panel for excessive negative nutrients.

• Using larger type for certain information in the panel, such as calories per serving and servings per container.

• Reclassifying fiber to include only intact fiber, like the fiber appearing in foods like produce and beans, as opposed to other carbohydrates like maltodextrin or polydextrose.

• Cracking down on health claims such as “boosts immunity” for foods that contain one or two vitamins, or “no trans fat” for foods that are heavy in saturated fat.

“So many packaged foods are little more than white flour, fat, sugar, salt and additives in various combinations, yet they are marketed as modern-day medical miracles, offering vague benefits for virtually every part of the body,” CSPI legal affairs director Bruce Silverglade said in the release.