During the past decade, tremendous growth has occurred in the use of nutrition symbols and rating systems designed to summarize key nutritional aspects and characteristics of food products. These symbols and the systems that underlie them have become known as front-of-package (FOP) nutrition rating systems and symbols, even though the symbols themselves can be found anywhere on the front of a food package or on a retail shelf tag. Though not regulated and inconsistent in format, content, and criteria, FOP systems and symbols have the potential to provide useful guidance to consumers as well as maximize effectiveness. As a result, Congress directed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to undertake a study with the Institute of Medicine (IOM) to examine and provide recommendations regarding FOP nutrition rating systems and symbols.
The study was completed in two phases. Phase I focused primarily on the nutrition criteria underlying FOP systems. Phase II builds on the results of Phase I while focusing on aspects related to consumer understanding and behavior related to the development of a standardized FOP system.
Front-of-Package Nutrition Rating Systems and Symbols focuses on Phase II of the study. The report addresses the potential benefits of a single, standardized front-label food guidance system regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, assesses which icons are most effective with consumer audiences, and considers the systems/icons that best promote health and how to maximize their use.