The Federal Nutrition Labeling and Education Act, (passed in 1990), requires that all food manufacturers who sell products in the US label their packages with nutrition information. Typically this information is found on the back or side of a package in the Nutrition Facts Panel.
You might have noticed in the last few years that some of that nutrition information is moving to the front of the package as well. Many manufacturers are putting easily spotted and pared down nutrition information on the front of the package. Known as front-of-package (FOP) labeling, the goal of this type of labeling is to help consumers quickly understand nutrition information.
The research was conducted by RTI International (Research Triangle Institute) and suggests labelers use text and color to convey nutrition information. RTI supports intellectual capital in the health and pharmaceuticals industry with research, training and laboratory services.
The research, published in the January issue of Nutrition Reviews, suggests that labels on the front of food packages and on grocery aisle shelves that are colorful and offer brief text description of nutrition data help consumers make better food choices. For example, labels that convey “high”, “medium”, or “low” levels of nutrients in a product were easier for consumers to interpret rather than numerical data, such as grams per serving.
If you label packaging for grocery products, you might want to check out the study here. According to the authors, the results can “help guide development of nutrition labels that quickly capture the attention of consumers and prompt them to pick healthier foods.” Right now there are no federal standards set for this type of labeling, so there are a myriad of different labeling schemes to capture consumer attention on crowded grocery shelves.
Are you involved with FOP labeling? What changes are you seeing in food labeling?