In the 1960s and the 70s, there is an increase in consumersâ€™ need for nutritional value in packaged food. To meet their needs, the food and drug administration (FDA) promoted all brands to display truthful nutritional information on their products to benefit the consumer. This was finally made a mandate that, all the FDA-regulated foods would carry a nutrition label that includes the number of calories, amount of protein, carbohydrate, and fat, along with the U.S recommended daily allowance (U.S. RDA) of proteins, vitamins, and minerals such as iron and calcium. Over the years, as consumers became aware of the correlation between diet and health, brands were compelled to provide more information regarding the nutritional effects of packaged foods and beverages. By the end of the 1990s, the FDA had regulated nutritional information to be displayed in a uniform manner across all food packages and brands.
Facts up front is a relatively new update to how the nutritional information is displayed on food packages in the US. It is a front-of-package (FOP) labeling method that is present in addition to the FDA-mandated nutrition facts label.
Facts up front began as a voluntary initiative, promoted by the consumer brands association (previously known as the grocery manufacturers association (GMA) and the food marketing institute. These organizations together represent about 300 food and beverages companies (the producers of packaged edibles), and more than 1500 food wholesalers and retailers (the distributors of the packaged products).
Features and Goals of Facts up Front
Facts up front recognize that a larger section of consumers finds it difficult to understand nutritional labels on food packaging. One of the major goals of the initiative is to make the readability of nutrition facts more user-friendly. Whether the consumer is a patient who needs to follow a certain diet or someone who desires to have a balanced daily nutrition intake, knowing and understanding the nutrition content of packaged food is important. Facts up front are intended to help busy shoppers to make informed choices about the products they wish to consume to lead a healthy diet. The easy-to-read icon-based representation of nutritional information is the characteristic feature of facts up front.
The organization responsible for facts up front has also initiated a website that allows consumers to find their personalized nutrient requirements through an interactive nutritional calculator. The website also provides tips and recipes that allow consumers to shop healthier and helps raise awareness among consumers about how the icons of facts up front can be used to meet their nutrient needs. Facts up-front labeling are not found on all packaged foods available in the market however, it is expected to expand to more products in the future.
Impact of Facts up Front
In research comparing the nutritional quality of products before and after the products were adopted, the researchers were able to find out that facts up front-like food labels, could improve the nutritional quality of food.
While the conventional nutrition facts label provides information in an unreadable manner, making the same information appear up-front in an understandable way is an advantage of facts up-front labeling.
Making the nutritional content of food products more noticeable makes consumers aware of their nutrient needs and to choose healthier and nutritious food products. In addition, this puts the food manufacturers in the position to improve the food product’s quality.
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