New Nutrition Symbols and Ratings to Aid Shoppers

A mock of the proposed labels (by NYT)

A report released October 20, 2011, by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) recommends the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) develop, test, and implement a single Front-of-Package (FOP) symbol system that is simple, clear, and able to relate relevant nutritional information quickly. The FOP symbol system would be used with foods and beverages.

Nutrition symbols and ratings systems have been on the front of food packages for a number of years. The information was intended to help consumers make healthy food choices, but the variety and complexity of some of the ratings systems caused more confusion than benefit. The new recommendations by the IOM would be an improvement. Information would include calories in household servings, and a point system for fats (saturated and trans fats), sodium and added sugars. Healthier foods and beverages would have more points.

The IOM recommendations came as a result of a Congress directed study of front-of-package systems by the IOM and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), later joined by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion in the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).


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