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Standardized Food Labels Hit the Shelves

BASEBALL stars Roger Clemens and Kirby Puckett are teaming up with the Goodyear blimp and Curious George, the storybook monkey, to get out the word that new food labels are on the way. They're helping introduce the Food and Drug Administration's ``Nutrition Facts'' label that manufacturers must start using by Sunday. This marks the first major change in food labels since they were introduced in the 1970s.

Ten years in the making, the new label is designed to show consumers how foods fit - and don't fit - into their diets. ``Our message is simple: There is something for everybody in this new label,'' says FDA Commissioner David Kessler.

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The new label has standardized serving sizes that are considered larger and more realistic than what many companies use. A single serving is 18 potato chips, for example, instead of eight.

It also features easier-to-read type and highlights in bold print information on calories and nutrients per serving. That information is also listed as a percentage of a person's daily intake and not by the number of milligrams per serving, which means little to average shoppers.

Although the deadline isn't until Sunday, some food manufacturers have already begun including the new label on their packages.

``The new food label tells us the kind of information we need to make informed, healthy choices about the foods we eat,'' says Health and Human Services Secretary, Donna Shalala.

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