This is a guest post by Carol Harvey, Director of food/nutrition labeling and product development at Palate Works.
This fall, Jelly Belly will be starting “voluntary front-of-package nutrition labeling on its most popular packaged products,” according to a press release last month.
“The new front label will highlight information such as calories and fat content.”
This is the same calorie and fat data that has been on food packages since the mid-‘90s. It is easy to find on the (required) full Nutrition Facts panel located on the side or back of packages. By showing only calories and fat on the front, Jelly Belly basically will be putting their “best foot” forward, because jelly beans get almost all of their calories from sugar, and none from fat… meaning fewer calories in the same FDA serving size (40g) as a candy bar or other fat-containing confection. There is no mention of whether sugar content will be shown on the front of the package.
“Transparency and clear communication on the part of the manufacturer allow consumers to make informed choices when the moment for a sweet treat strikes.”
This is in contrast to what a consumer currently will find on Jelly Belly’s extensive web site, where there is no Nutrition Facts data and no ingredient listings for their products. Type “nutrition” in the search box and you are presented with a blank screen. Perhaps that will change this fall in the name of transparency.
“Jelly Belly beans are four calories per bean, with an average 40g serving size of approximately 140 calories. In addition to their low calorie count….”
U.S. nutrition labeling regulations define “low calorie” as 40 calories or fewer per serving (the FDA-defined serving is indeed 40 grams for candies of this type, as well as for candy bars), so 140 calories cannot be described as “low calorie.”
Here is one serving of jelly beans:
“Get Real… We use real ingredients whenever possible to create our famous true-to-life flavors….”
While many Jelly Belly varieties use fruit concentrates for flavoring (along with other natural and artificial flavors), artificial coloring is still used in their products. Apparently the company has decided that consumers prefer artificial/bright/neon colors rather than the natural colors from real food/plant sources (widely available and used in many other candies, especially in Europe). It is a business decision, and, of course, consumers can choose what they prefer.
Carol Harvey has been a nutrition labeling and product development consultant for over 15 years. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.