The Obama administration and the food industry are revising front-of-product nutrition labeling standards, says Zeke Emanuel, a senior adviser to the Office of Management and Budget. Emanuel and Sam Kass, White House chef, updated the status of the First Lady's "Let's Move" initiative to combat childhood obesity.
The food industry wants to keep as much control as possible on the part of the food product that faces parents and kids, but government wants to “standardize” part of it, perhaps to include the level of “calories, salt, sugar, fats,” explains Zeke Emanuel, a senior adviser to the Office of Management and Budget.
In May, the Food and Drug Administration sent a letter to food manufacturers, warning them that the agency was taking a closer look at existing front labels for accuracy. Last year, the FDA objected to the words “Smart Choice” on a box of kids’ cereal.
"The food industry is working hard in trying to figure this out with us," says Sam Kass, a White House chef and the Obama family’s private chef in Chicago.
Kass says that the First Lady made it clear before she got to the White House that she wanted to lead by example.
“She made clear that all the food served in the White House, from staff meals to state dinners to what we were serving to the family, had to represent the broad issues of what we cared about,” he add. He also helped set up the White House garden and a farmer’s market.
Impetus for the initiative comes in part from hundreds of chefs who joined the First Lady at the White House earlier this year. They’ve been encouraged to take the First Lady’s message and adopt individual schools where they live. But many schools, Emanuel notes, don't have kitchens and are instead serving meals produced elsewhere. To that end, several companies have agreed to donate pots, pans and burners to 1,000 schools.