FDA bending on Front of Packaging Nutrition Rules

According to a recent article on foodpolitics.com, FDA is now supporting the front-of-packaging labeling scheme introduced by the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) and the Food Marketing Institute (FMI).

The GMA-FMI Facts-Up-Front scheme seems to be an end run around the FDA’s front-of-package labeling initiatives, which are still winding their way through the rule making process. However, it appears from that they may be bending to some pressure from the FMI, GMA and other food industry associations.

FDA’s deputy commissioner for foods, Michael Taylor, said that the four standardized basic icons required by industry’s Facts Up Front program – for calories, saturated fat, sodium and total sugars – “would alleviate some of FDA’s concern regarding the potential for product labeling to mislead consumers by presenting only “good news” about nutrient content on the front of the package, which is the concern that the regulations governing nutrient content claims were intended to address.”

We think that the food industry was trying to head off anything resembling traffic light labels on food products, like they have in England, which has been proven to discourage people from buying products outright.

The jury is still out on whether or not including nutrition information on the front of packaging makes good marketing sense. The question remains is what will the final rule look like.

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3 comments to FDA bending on Front of Packaging Nutrition Rules

  • I’m so glad to see that others agree that its a hrriod new look. I’m usually all for modern design and for over a decade had a business devoted to it (not in the packaging area though )Long before I found out that there was a surrounding controversy, I told my girlfriend who was shopping with me, how bad the new design was, and pointed out why. I usually don’t speak out or pay much attention to this sort of thing, so you know that I had a strong opinion about this one. I’m glad to hear that they’re going to change it back. Keeping it would HAVE to be a mistake!On a related note, I actually like the new Pepsi packaging. Its simple for one thing, and unlike a sliced orange, I don’t think a picture of a cola nut makes the average person’s mouth water, so here the abstraction is appropriate. A picture is worth a thousand words as they used to say in my Psychology in Advertising class, and the original carton design accomplished this much more efficiently! I had to study this new carton design for quite some time before I understood what I was looking at and even a good bit longer before I could determine my usual selection of the low acid variety. A well-printed (four-color process) freshly cut orange slice gives you an immediate idea as to what’s inside, and its a hundred times more appetizing than that abstracted juice glass that looks like it was printed at home on someone’s basement press with cheap ink.The half-an-orange screw top is a cute, eye-catching idea though, and therefore a good one (if its not hard to open). I hope they can keep it!

    • Janet, the USDA National Nutrient Database lets you find out the nutrition initamrofon about nearly any food item. It’s free. See my Sept. 5 post Nutrition Facts Quickly Find Calories, Etc. for Any Food for the link. Thanks for the good question! Julie

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