The Grocery Manufacturers Association and the Food Marketing Institute this week announced a voluntary front-of-pack labeling initiative that has the support of many major food and beverage manufacturers and retailers. While specific details are still being worked out, this symbol system will incorporate a variety of nutrients to make it easier for shoppers to make informed purchase decisions.
According to GMA, consumers will begin to see the new label in the marketplace early next year.
"This is a landmark step forward in the industry's commitment to help address the obesity challenge," said David Mackay, president and chief executive officer of Kellogg Company, one of the participating companies. "It represents the most significant change to food labels in the United States in 20 years."
Using the labeling system, manufacturers will add nutrition information on calories and other nutrients to limit to the front of their product packages. Although the technical and design elements will be decided in the next few months, the format will be fact-based, simple and easy to use. Other details to be decided include how to provide consumers with information on shortfall nutrients and others needed to build a nutrient-dense diet.
No Easy Task, IDFA Says
"Providing a complete picture of the product, including nutrients to encourage and others to limit, in an easy-to-understand, consistent labeling format is no easy task, but this initiative definitely seems to be on the right track," said Connie Tipton, IDFA president and CEO.
To build consumer awareness and promote the use of the system, many food and beverage manufacturers and retailers have agreed to support the change with a $50 million consumer education campaign. It will be launched next year and aimed at parents who are the primary household shoppers. Earlier this month, an Institute of Medicine (IOM) committee recommended that front-of-package symbols should include only calorie, saturated fat, trans fat and sodium content of foods and beverages. For details, read " IOM Moves Forward on Front-of-Package Labeling." On Tuesday, the committee kicked off the second phase of its work, which will examine the format for front-of-pack symbols.
The Food and Drug Administration will use the IOM recommendations in its efforts to develop front-of-package labeling guidelines for all foods and beverages in the United States. FDA has indicated that the federal system would be voluntary.
For more information, contact Michelle Matto, IDFA consultant on nutrition and labeling, at email@example.com.