Examination of Front-of-Package Nutrition Rating Systems and Symbols

Type: Consensus Study
Topics: Food and Nutrition
Board: Food and Nutrition Board

Activity News and Announcements

Activity Description

The use of symbols, logos, and icons to communicate nutritional information on the front of food labels has seen substantial growth during this decade. Surveys show that product healthfulness is a major consideration for consumers in making food purchases. However, some have raised concerns that the meaning of different rating systems may be confusing to consumers.

In response to a congressional directive, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration asked the IOM to undertake a two phase review of “front-of-package” nutrition rating systems and symbols.

Phase I focuses on the elements of the nutrition rating criteria and science underlying the front-of-package systems. The committee was charged with the following tasks:

  • identify front-of-package systems being used by manufacturers, supermarkets, health organizations, and governments in the United States and abroad; 
  • consider the purpose and overall merits of front-label nutrition icons;
  • identify the criteria underlying the systems and evaluate their scientific basis;
  • consider advantages and disadvantages of various approaches for adults and children; and,
  • using knowledge gained from its compilation and assessment of front-of-package systems, plan the second phase .

Phase II focuses on consumer understanding and use of front-of-package systems and symbols.  The second phase will consider the following:

  • Assessment of which icons are the most effective with consumer audiences,
  • Development of conclusions about the systems and icons that best promote health and how to maximize their use, and
  • Potential benefits of a single, standardized front-label food guidance system regulated by the Food and Drug Administration.

The Phase I report will be released on October 13, 2010 and the Phase II report in Fall 2011. 

More information on Phase I and Phase II.

For PowerPoint presentations from October 2010 workshop, click on Meeting 1 Phase II below.

For PowerPoint presentations from April 2010 workshop, click on Meeting 2 below.   

Previous Meetings for this Activity

View All Previous Meetings