“Facts Up Front” 411
Have you ever noticed the similarities between food and fashion? In both industries visual are highly important, along with the use of good raw materials—good ingredients for food and good fabrics in the case of fashion. Every now and then fashion flips the script—the flourishes and fasteners typically found on the back of garments will appear on the front. Buttons and zippers become part of the garment front, providing the details that make a fashion statement.
Similarly the new “Facts Up Front” nutrition labeling brings the details to the front of the package. Facts Up Front, places important information from the Nutrition Facts Panel, typically found on the back of food and beverage products right on the front of the label in a simple, clear, and easy-to-use format. “Facts Up Front” is the voluntary initiative of America’s food and beverage manufacturers and food retailers in response to First Lady Michelle Obama’s call to action to create a front-of-the pack labeling system that companies could easily adopt, helping busy consumers make informed decisions while food shopping.
Nutrition information displayed on the front of products highlights nutrient information – calories, saturated fat, sodium and sugar per serving – in a clear, easy-to-understand and read format. In addition the labels also show consumers information about “nutrients to encourage”—those nutrients that are often under consumed, such as fiber, iron, and potassium. However the product must include at least 10% of the encouraged nutrient to earn a place on the front label. The nutrients highlighted in the “Facts Up Front” labels are the nutrients that are essential for a balanced diet, as well as those currently under-consumed by most Americans. “Facts Up Front” is based on USDA’s Dietary Guidelines and it’s designed to be flexible and can accommodate changes to the Federal Dietary Guidelines.
You’ll find these new labels appearing on numerous products—candy, cereals, meats, pizza crusts, beverages and more. The front of the label graphic is not simply an icon. It is a guideline to aid folks in using the on-package nutrition information to learn more about making wise choices. As part of the outreach and consumer education with “Facts Up Front,” the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) has launched an interactive website. The site includes tools for consumers such as a nutrition calculator, and detailed label information. Though the site includes great information, if you have limited access to the internet or are not computer savvy, you can look for options such as the in-store registered dietitians, brochures, and newsletters to learn more about the front of the label nutrition information.
Though food and fashion will continue to reflect trends, keep in mind that wise food choices and a healthy lifestyle go hand-in hand with maintaining a healthy body image and choosing fashionable garments that will compliment your personal style.
Take Away: The packages of food and beverage products include a wealth of information. The initiative to highlight key nutrients on the front of labels is an aid to grocery shoppers, helping to inform and educate them as they make buying decisions.