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Another consumer-friendly on-package consumer nutrition labeling program has been unveiled, this time by NSF International and the American Society for Nutrition (ASN), which have teamed up to administer the new Smart Choices Program. The nutrition labeling program will aim to provide manufacturers and retailers with a reliable front-of-pack icon plus calorie information that helps consumers recognize smarter food and beverage products within product categories.
Aiming to bring consistency and clarity to the U.S. marketplace as a result of the proliferation of front-of-pack labels that offer little uniformity and in turn, make it difficult for manufacturers to convey the nutritional benefits of their products and can cause consumer confusion, Smart Choices managers say the program aspires to make it easier for consumers to quickly identify products and select smarter food and beverage choices within product categories.
NSF International and ASN will act as program administrators providing both scientific and technical expertise to a board of directors comprised of non-profit, scientific and industry representatives.
"NSF International’s core business is certifying products and writing standards for food, water and consumer goods in order to protect public health,” said Nancy Culotta, NSF VP. “This labeling program will assist consumers in choosing nourishing foods and beverages that fit within their daily caloric needs.”
Developed through an unprecedented collaboration of scientists, public health advocates, food industry representatives and health organizations, Jim Hill, ASN President, affirms Smart Choices “is based on sound, consensus science…that will aid consumers in making healthier food selections when they shop."
To qualify for the Smart Choices Program, all products must meet standards for specific “nutrients to limit,” and, for most categories, products must also meet criteria for positive attributes – “nutrients to encourage” or “food groups to encourage.” Specific qualifying criteria were developed for 19 different product categories, such as beverages, cereals, meats, dairy and snacks:
- Nutrients to limit: total fat, saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, added sugars and sodium
- Nutrients to encourage: calcium, potassium, fiber, magnesium, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E
- Food groups to encourage: fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat or fat free dairy
As opposed to a scoring system, the Smart Choices Program identifies foods via a science-based nutrition criteria within specific product categories. Products that meet the criteria are eligible to bear the Smart Choices icon on the front of the package. Accompanying the Smart Choices icon will be information on the number of calories per serving, as well as the number of servings in the package. The straight-forward and transparent nutrition criteria distinguish the Smart Choices Program from others in the marketplace.
Companies who have already signed up to participate in the program include ConAgra Foods, General Mills, Kellogg Co., Kraft Foods, PepsiCo, SunMaid and Unilever.
For more information on the Smart Choices Program, contact Sarah Krol, Smart Choices GM, at [email protected].