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IDFA Suggests Changes to FDA Consumer Study

Jan 08, 2010

In comments filed late last month, IDFA applauded the Food and Drug Administration's proposal to study how consumers perceive and use nutrition symbols on front-of-package labeling. However, IDFA reinforced its belief that nutrition symbols should remain voluntary and expressed concerns about the content and approach of the consumer study.

"We appreciate FDA's plan to conduct consumer testing before releasing guidance on nutrition symbols," the comments stated. "These results need to be carefully studied before FDA moves forward, so that the messages and implications of these labeling symbols are understood."

IDFA noted that consumers are encountering various sources of nutrition information in grocery stores. Many retailers are incorporating nutrition scoring programs, such as the NuVal system used by HyVee and Meijer stores or Guiding Stars used by Hannaford and Food Lion. Because this information is included on shelf tags, which fall under FDA's definition of "labeling," IDFA believes these types of scoring systems should be included in the study.

Nutrients to encourage and discourage also should be included in the study, IDFA said, in keeping with the 2005 Dietary Guidelines. Before establishing new criteria for point-of-purchase nutrition symbols, FDA should measure the impact these nutrition statements have on purchase decisions.

IDFA also offered suggestions on how to develop and conduct the survey. In particular, IDFA encouraged FDA to take care when developing the survey questions and to avoid language that could bias consumer response and skew survey results. Respondents should reflect the U.S. population, the comments stated, especially the demographic group that does the majority of the shopping for American households.

Read IDFA's comments here.

For more information, contact Michelle Matto, IDFA assistant director of nutrition and labeling, at or (202) 737-4332.

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