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IDFA Says Proposed Food Labeling Scheme Flawed

Oct 21, 2011

Contact: Peggy Armstrong
(202) 220-3508

Calls for Nutrients to Encourage

(Washington, D.C. – October 21, 2011) The International Dairy Foods Association today said that the Institute of Medicine’s (IOM) front-of-pack nutrition labeling rating and symbols recommendations use a flawed formula that could confuse consumers seeking information on the nutrient content of food and beverages.

“According to the proposed labeling system, low-fat dairy products – which are recommended as nutrient rich foods to encourage in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans – would receive a rating of 2 stars while products devoid of positive nutrients such as a diet soft drink could qualify for 3 stars,” said Cary Frye, IDFA vice president of regulatory and scientific affairs. “A labeling system that focuses on calories and ‘nutrients to avoid’ does not provide consumers with the full range of information needed to make healthy and nutritious choices in the food aisle.”

Earlier this week the committee called for a simplified label symbol that would go on the front of all food packages and highlight the number of calories per serving. The symbol would also use a 0-3 star, or point, system to indicate how healthful a food is based on eligibility criteria and qualifying levels of saturated fat and trans fat, sodium and added sugars.

“Providing a complete picture of the product, including nutrients to encourage and others to limit, in an easy-to-understand, consistent labeling format would be much more helpful than this over-simplified approach,” said Frye.

This week’s IOM report provides recommendations.  Any regulations on front-of-pack labeling must be implemented by Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

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The International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA), Washington, D.C., represents the nation's dairy manufacturing and marketing industries and their suppliers, with a membership of 550 companies representing a $110-billion a year industry. IDFA is composed of three constituent organizations: the Milk Industry Foundation (MIF), the National Cheese Institute (NCI) and the International Ice Cream Association (IICA). IDFA's 220 dairy processing members run more than 600 plant operations, and range from large multi-national organizations to single-plant companies. Together they represent more than 85 percent of the milk, cultured products, cheese and frozen desserts produced and marketed in the United States.

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