A month ago I wrote about the new front-of-package labeling that we are now beginning to see on store shelves. This new blue box, called Nutrition Keys was developed by the Grocery Manufacturers Association and the Food Marketing Institute, two large trade groups that represent hundreds of food manufacturers. It will list the amount of calories, salt, sugar and saturated fat per serving and can also include positive nutrients such as fiber and vitamins.
This is a voluntary response to a request from First Lady Michelle Obama in 2010 as part of her “Let’s Move” campaign to fight childhood obesity for a clearer labelling system to help consumers make better food choices in-store.
Some detractors are worried that this voluntary system is nothing but a manufacturer-based “end-around”, while they wait for the FDA to come up with their own guidelines, a process that may take years. Consumers have grown familiar with the Nutrition Panel, introduced by the 1990 Nutrition Labeling and Education Act, but many nutritionists agree that is a lot of information for the consumer to analyze.
Perhaps having a “bottom line” on the package front will be helpful to consumers who tend to purchase a lot of processed foods. Or perhaps consumers will begin to realize that they may want to limit their intake of foods that need this much information on them.