More than 50 companies already have put the Facts Up Front label icon on the front their products to show consumers key nutrition information on the front of the product, and this summer and fall the Grocery Manufacturers Association and the Food Marketing Institute are making a big push to raise awareness.
“The goal is to drive consumers to the Facts Up Front website to get some nutrition education,” said GMA senior communications director Ginny Smith Clemenko.
The multimedia advertising and education campaign was launched this spring, and at FactsUpFront.org, there is an interactive label with information on the four key pieces of information — calories, saturated fat, sodium and sugars. Companies can add two additional pieces of nutrition information, and the interactive label explains options such fiber, protein, vitamins C or D or potassium.
The response so far has been very encouraging, according to Mary Sophos, GMA executive vice president for policy and strategic planning. “We’re getting a lot of inquiries from companies who are not FMI or GMA members who are interested,” Sophos said.
Facts Up Front was developed after first lady Michelle Obama asked industry to create a front-based labeling system. Michelle Obama has championed the “Let’s Move!” initiative to reduce obesity in children.
Early research shows people like the Facts Up Front label. A Harris poll commissioned by GMA found that 93% of people who used it said putting information up front makes it easy to find and 92% said it was easy to understand.
Sophos said GMA also has found shoppers “clearly differentiated this kind of information from typical marketing claims.”
Facts Up Front is gaining traction among the public as the FDA has proposed new food package labeling rules and continues to take comments on them. The Nutrition Facts Label found on the back of food packaging hasn’t changed in 20 years and the FDA wants to make it easier for consumers to use and understand it.
GMA intends to be part of this rulemaking process and the Facts Up Front label is designed to be flexible and accommodate changes. The association also realizes food companies are moving forward with their own up-front labeling.
One example is Victoria Fine Foods in Brooklyn, N.Y., which recently listed the ingredients in its pasta sauce on the front of jars.
Chief Strategy Officer Don Davide said the decision was based on research and the results of focus group testing of front and back labeling. He said people liked labeling on the front because it showed the sauce contains only a few ingredients, and that they were things people often used when cooking at home.
The Facts Up Front campaign also includes a toolkit for retailers and targeted outreach to grocery store dietitians.
Registered dietitian Julie McMillin, director of health and wellness for Hy-Vee, said the Iowa-based company has added the icon to its private label food products and has found it is becoming very visible in stores.
But providing nutrition information is just one aspect of healthy shopping, McMillin said, so as store dietitians walk the aisles with customers, the Facts Up Front label also becomes a great teaching tool to help people understand nutrition and learn what is important when comparing foods.
“Shoppers today are more health conscious,” she said. “Shoppers prefer to be trusteed and empowered to decide for themselves what to eat and what to limit. Facts Up Front gives them that power.”
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