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IDFA Disagrees with IOM Focus on Nutrients to Limit

Oct 26, 2011

The Institute of Medicine (IOM) released last week its second phase report on front-of-package labeling with mixed results for dairy. The report recommends calling out three nutrients to limit – saturated and trans fats, sodium and added sugars – along with serving size and calories for every food and beverage product. IDFA believes the proposed system is flawed because products also should flag nutrients to encourage to give consumers the complete nutrient profile.

The IOM committee recommended a three-point system based on certain eligibility criteria and the levels of saturated fat and trans fat, sodium and added sugars in the products. Each product would earn zero to three points, which could be displayed as checks or stars, to indicate how healthy it would be for consumers.


"Low-fat dairy products, which are recommended as nutrient-rich foods to encourage in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, would receive a rating of only two stars while products devoid of positive nutrients, such as a diet soft drink, could receive three stars," said Cary Frye, IDFA vice president of regulatory and scientific affairs. "And most cheeses would receive no stars based on saturated fat levels. That demonstrates a very unbalanced approach to nutrition." 

IDFA Calls for Complete Profile

IDFA expressed its concern about the recommendations in a news release issued last Friday. IDFA encouraged FDA to provide a complete picture in an easy-to-understand format rather than the overly simplistic approach.

"It's important to note that these are only recommendations, so no labeling changes are imminent," said Frye. "However, IDFA is concerned that the Food and Drug Administration could use these recommendations at some point to develop a consistent front-of-package labeling approach for all foods and beverages in the United States. We will continue to urge FDA to make compliance with the federal system voluntary."

This report is the second phase of IOM's work on front-of-package labeling. Congress directed the Centers for Disease Con­trol and Prevention to undertake a study with IOM, which released its first report last October. At the time, the IOM committee recommended highlighting only calorie, saturated fat, trans fat and sodium content, saying these nutrients can play a role in the development of obesity and heart disease.

For more information, contact Frye, IDFA vice president of regulatory affairs, at

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