FDA to Create a Standardized Front of Pack Nutrition Label?

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In perfect timing with ADA’s nutrition and food conference, The FDA issued a “letter to manufacturers” on Monday, informing them (and us) that it will begin an investigation into Front of Pack (FOP) nutrition labels.

Here are some interesting tidbits from the regulatory body in charge of what is mentioned on the food labels of virtually every product we buy at the supermarket.

FDA recognizes that point of purchase labeling can be a way of promoting informed food choices and helping consumers construct healthier diets in accordance with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

… However, FDA’s research has found that with FOP labeling, people are less likely to check the Nutrition Facts label on the information panel of foods (usually, the back or side of the package). It is thus essential that both the criteria and symbols used in front-of-package and shelf-labeling systems be nutritionally sound, well-designed to help consumers make informed and healthy food choices, and not be false or misleading.

… If voluntary action by the food industry does not result in a common, credible approach to FOP and shelf labeling, we will consider using our regulatory tools toward that end.

Hopefully the Smart Choices / Froot Loops fiasco will lead to some good – a standardized, objective, and trustworthy front of pack label that consumers will be able to rely on. That way you wont’t be buying a cereal whose first ingredient is sugar, contains trans fat, and has 4 different kinds of artificial colorings to it thinking it is a healthy choice for your child.

What to do at the supermarket:

Don’t hold your breath until FDA regulations kick in. The government is slow to move… In the meantime, don’t gather any nutrition information from health claims or nutrition labels on the front of a product package. The only information relevant is the nutrition facts panel.

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