Nutrition Data on Front of Food Packaging Helps Consumers Make Healthier Choices

November 15, 2012

CHICAGO—The average American consumer spends nearly 45 minutes on one grocery shopping trip (Hamrick et al. 2011). In the November issue of Food Technology magazine, published by the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT), Contributing Writer Annette Maggi outlines the types of nutrition guidance programs that many grocery chains have adopted to make shopping for healthy foods easier and more time efficient for consumers. Maggi identifies the three different types as follows:

Fact-Based Programs: Based on Food and Drug Administration (FDA) nutrient content claims, these programs highlight fact-based statements such as “low fat,” “high in fiber,” “a good source of calcium,” or “heart healthy.” They also include lifestyle claims such as “gluten free” or “organic.” Examples of fact-based programs include Publix’s Nutrition Facts, Safeway’s Simple Nutrition, Wegmans’ Wellness Keys, and Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) and Food Marketing Institute (FMI) Facts Up Front.

Threshold Programs: In order to gain the “stamp of approval” for this type of system, products must meet certain levels or limits for a variety of nutrients. Single-ingredient foods, 100 percent whole grain products, unflavored low-fat, nonfat milk or yogurt, and a fat/nut/oil/seed with no more than 15 percent of calories from saturated fat can carry this icon. Examples include Walmart’s Great for You program and Ahold’s Healthy Ideas.

Ranking Programs: These programs use algorithms that evaluate the nutrient density of foods. A variety of nutrients that have a positive and/or negative impact on health are taken into account. The shopper is presented with a numerical ranking. NuVal and ANDI are systems based on this concept.

Read the full Food Technology article to learn more.

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