|This product shows “Nutrition Keys’’ labels (lower left) as they would appear on a box of cereal. The voluntary new labels will list calories, saturated fat, sodium, and sugars per serving. (Grocery Manufacturers Association via Associated Press)|
Nutrition information aimed at package fronts
NEW YORK — Some of the nutrition information listed in government-mandated food labels will be repeated on package fronts under a new system that food makers and major grocers are introducing.
The Grocery Manufacturers Association and the Food Marketing Institute yesterday announced the industry’s voluntary “Nutrition Keys,’’ which will list calories, saturated fat, sodium, and sugars per serving. Manufacturers may choose to use only one or two of the figures in small, package-front icons, or all four.
The icons replace a program the industry launched and canceled in 2009 that the Food and Drug Administration said was misleading. It was called “Smart Choices’’ and included a green checkmark on foods that met some nutrition requirements set by the industry.
Most US food makers and sellers are backing “Nutrition Keys,’’ which the industry is launching with a $50 million marketing campaign.
Most food makers will add Nutrition Keys icons to packages by the end of 2011 but also keep the mandatory black-and-white nutrition labels on package backs. The new system includes ways for food makers to name ingredients consumers should emphasize and those best to limit.
Industry representatives said the new labels respond to a request Michelle Obama made last March in her effort to fight childhood obesity.
Nonprofit advocacy group The Center for Science in the Public Interest said the labels could be confusing — and consumers are likely to ignore them.