US: Report into front-of-pack labelling published
FDA to bring nutrition labelling to the US
The US Institute of Medicine (IOM) has published the first phase of its research into front-of-pack labelling commissioned by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The report concludes that a standardised front-of-pack (FOP) nutritional labelling system for food and drink would be most use to consumers if it focused on four elements: calories, saturated fat, trans fat and sodium. These, the report states, are the elements of greatest concern and the components that are routinely overconsumed and associated most strongly with diet-related health problems such as obesity, heart disease and Type 2 diabetes.
"Calories, saturated fat, trans fats, and sodium present the most serious diet-related risks to people's health, and many Americans consume far too much of these nutrients," said Professor Ellen Wartella, chair of the research committee. "As Americans grapple with increasing rates of serious health problems connected to their diets, it's important that the nutritional information they receive is clear, consistent, and well-grounded in nutrition science."
However, the researchers concluded that it would not be crucial for FOP rating systems and symbols to include components such as cholesterol, fibre, added sugars or vitamins, given the limitations of space and the fact that this information is available on the back nutrition panel.
This conclusion is likely to concern some consumer groups which have called for nutrition rating systems also to cover added sugars. However, the researchers said that both added and naturally-occurring sugars contribute to the caloric content of foods and to overconsumption of high-calorie products. Highlighting total calories per serving in nutrition rating systems would address this issue, the IOM said.
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