Foods and beverages should pass a separate set of criteria to determine if they are eligible to earn points at all, the report adds. If a product exceeds the eligibility criteria for any one of the nutrients of concern, it would not be able to display any points. For example, a sugar-sweetened soda could not earn points for having low sodium and no saturated or trans fats because its added sugar content is too high.
Whether a food or beverage qualifies for points or not, it should prominently display the amount of calories per serving with servings described in familiar measurements, such as per slice or per cup. The front-of-package icons should also direct shoppers to the Nutrition Facts Panel on the reverse to get additional information about the healthfulness of products.
Although the committee's phase 1 report concluded that calories, saturated fat, trans fat, and sodium should be the focus of a new front-of-package system because they are most strongly associated with chronic disease, the phase 2 report says that added sugars should also be included. The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which were issued since the release of the first report, strongly recommend that people reduce their consumption of products that contain added sugars. The U.S. Department of Agriculture puts several products that are high in added sugars in a category called Sugars, Sweets, and Beverages; products in this group are automatically ineligible to earn points in the committee's recommended approach.
The new symbols representing products' calories and point values should appear on all grocery products so that shoppers can readily compare food choices within categories, such as breakfast cereals, as well as across categories, such as fresh produce, frozen vegetables, and canned soups, the committee said. Food manufacturers
|Contact: Christine Stencel |
National Academy of Sciences