America's leading food and beverage manufacturers and retailers today announced the launch of Nutrition Keys, a new voluntary front-of-pack nutrition labeling system that will help busy consumers make informed choices when they shop. The program represents the most significant modernization of food labels since the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act of 1990.
The Nutrition Keys program was developed in response to a request from First Lady Michelle Obama in March of last year.
"We share First Lady Michelle Obama's goal of solving childhood obesity within a generation," says Pamela Bailey, president and CEO of the Grocery Manufacturers Association. "[This] announcement would not have been possible without her leadership. Food and beverage companies have a strong track record of providing consumers with the products, tools and information they need to achieve and maintain a healthy lifestyle, and this program represents a significant milestone in our ongoing effort to help consumers construct a healthy diet."
"Today's sophisticated consumer wants more information about their food than ever before," says Leslie Sarasin, president and CEO of the Food Marketing Institute. "Nutrition Keys, combined with the many innovative nutrition education tools and programs in retail stores, is helping us meet that challenge and exceed consumer expectations."
The Nutrition Keys program will change the look of the vast majority of the country's most popular food and beverage products by placing important nutrition information (calories, saturated fat, sodium and total sugars content) on the front of packages. To appeal to busy consumers, the information will be presented in a fact-based, simple and easy-to-use format. The icon will inform consumers about how the key nutrients in each product fit into a balanced and healthy diet as part of the federal government's daily dietary advice.
In addition, the Nutrition Keys icon on some products will display information about "nutrients to encourage" that are important for a healthy diet, but are under-consumed by the general population. Nutrients to encourage that may appear on some products as part of the Nutrition Keys icon are: potassium, fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin D, calcium, iron and also protein.
The board of directors of GMA and FMI adopted a joint resolution in support of the Nutrition Keys initiative at their Jan. 23, 2011 joint board meeting. Those companies represent the vast majority of food and beverage products sold in local stores.
"Obesity is a serious and far-reaching problem," says Ric Jurgens, chairman and chief executive of Hy-Vee Inc. "As industry leaders, parents and grandparents, we have an obligation—along with government, schools and other stakeholders—to attack our nation's rising obesity rates. We are proud participants in the Nutrition Keys program."
"Helping consumers make informed decisions is not just good business sense, it is the right thing to do," says Gary Rodkin, CEO of ConAgra Foods, and chairman of the GMA board of directors. "Our industry has stepped up to the plate in a big way to help improve public health and combat obesity and this program is a very important step in the right direction."
Companies will begin to place the icon on their products in 2011 according to seasonality and production schedules. Consumers will begin to see the Nutrition Keys icon on their favorite products in the next few months, and the number of products that carry the icon will continue to grow throughout the year.
To build consumer awareness and promote use of the icon, America's food and beverage manufacturers and retailers have agreed to support the change to their product labels with an unprecedented consumer education campaign. Participating manufacturers and retailers will initially invest at least $50 million in an advertising, public relations and in-store marketing campaign aimed at those who serve as the primary shopper for their family.
Nutrition Keys front-of-pack labeling system
In 2010, First Lady Michelle Obama asked industry to develop a front-of-pack labeling system that could be widely adopted on food packages and that would help busy consumers—especially parents—make informed decisions when they shop. In response, America's food and beverage manufacturers and retailers have joined forces to develop and implement the Nutrition Keys initiative, an unprecedented voluntary front-of-pack nutrition labeling system that will provide nutrition information on the front of food and beverage packages, including calories and three "nutrients to limit."
Nutrition Keys is a fact-based approach that summarizes important nutrition information from the Nutrition Facts panel in a clear, simple and easy-to-use format on the front of food and beverage packages. The new icon and label changes adhere to current U.S. Food and Drug Administration guidelines and regulations, ensuring that consumers receive consistent and reliable information. The icon will inform consumers about how the key nutrients in each product fit in a balanced and healthy diet as part of the federal government's daily dietary advice.
The four basic icons, for calories, saturated fat, sodium and sugars, represent key nutrients for which dietary guidance recommend limiting consumption in the diet. The four basic icons are always presented together as a consistent set:
On small food packages, one icon may be used, representing calories in a serving of the food. This is an option for food manufacturers, recognizing that small food packages may not have enough space to accommodate the four basic Icons. This labeling system will complement the Clear on Calories labeling system developed by the American Beverage Association.
As an option, certain labels could include "nutrients to encourage"—nutrients needed to build a nutrient-dense diet. In addition to the basic four icons, packages may include up to two nutrients to encourage: potassium, fiber, protein, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin D, calcium and iron. All of these are either shortfall nutrients or are required to be on the nutrition facts panel. These "nutrients to encourage" can only be placed on a package if the product has more than 10 percent of the daily value per serving of the nutrient and meets the FDA requirements for a "good source" nutrient content claim.
The GMA-FMI front-of-package labeling system will make the FOP icons graphically distinct from other nutrition-related claims on front-of-pack.
Source: Grocery Manufacturers of America