Report at a Glance
Examination of Front-of-Package Nutrition Rating Systems and Symbols: Phase 1 Report
The federal government, through the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act of 1990, requires that most packaged foods carry a standardized label—the Nutrition Facts panel—that provides certain nutrition information intended to help consumers make healthful choices. In recent years, manufacturers have begun to include additional nutrition messages, often represented in symbol form, on their food packages. These messages are commonly referred to as “front-of-package” (FOP) labeling, even though they may appear anywhere on the food package or on store shelves. As FOP labeling has multiplied, it has become easy for consumers to be confused about critical nutrition information. Adding to the confusion, manufacturers use a variety of FOP nutrition rating systems, with different and often conflicting criteria that can yield varying results.
In considering how FOP labeling should be used as a nutrition education tool in the future, Congress directed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to undertake a study with the Institute of Medicine (IOM) on FOP nutrition rating systems and nutrition-related symbols. The study also is supported by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The IOM study will be completed in two phases. Examination of Front-of-Package Nutrition Rating Systems and Symbols: Phase I Report reviews current systems, examines the strength and weaknesses of the nutrition science that underlies them, and reaches conclusions based on a nutrition perspective; The Phase II report will focus on the consumer perspective.