The FDA issued its final rules for the Nutrition Facts panels, but now I want to know: What ever happened to its front-of-package (FOP) initiatives?
The New York Times editorial on the new food label raised this very question.
But the labels, which most food companies will have to use by July 2018, still have serious limitations. They require busy shoppers to absorb a lot of facts, not all of which are equally important, and then do the math themselves while standing in the grocery aisle. And the labels are on the back of the package, where only the most motivated shoppers will look.
The editorial refers to the FDA’s front-of-package initiatives early in the Obama administration. These involved two reports from the Institute of Medicine. The first, released in 2010, examined about 20 existing front-of-package schemes cluttering up the labels of processed foods and evaluated their strengths and weaknesses. It recommended that FOP labels deal only with calories, saturated fat, trans fat, and sodium. My question at the time: why not sugars? The committee’s answer: calories took care of it.
But the IOM’s second report in 2011 included sugars and recommended a point system for evaluating the amounts of it and those nutrients in processed foods. Packages would get zero stars if their saturated and trans fat, sodium, or sugars exceeded certain cut points.
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