Program brings nutrition facts to forefront

(SWEEPS FEED) We are all pretty used to the nutrition panel on the side of our food packaging these days, but there’s another system of food labeling that’s supposed to make it easier for busy shoppers to pick what’s best for them quickly: the facts-up-front labels.

These quick and easy to see ingredient icons aren’t a mandatory requirement for manufacturers and busy parents, like Suzanne Chan, want to know why.

Food shopping can take a while for Chan who has children with dietary restrictions.

“Two of my boys have severe, severe food allergies. They have a lot of nutritional deficiencies, and I’m always trying to figure out the right balance,” Chan said. “It’s tough. I’m looking at all the different labels and some of them are complicated, scientific words that I might have to look up or Google.”

But some companies make it easier for consumers like Chan with something called a facts-up-front label.

Kim Kircherr, a registered dietitian with the Grocery Manufacturers Association, said the labels make shopping more convenient.

“It makes it easy to quickly spot a couple of key components, like, let’s say you’re looking for sodium, you want to check out the calories. Those bits of information have simply been brought from the nutritional facts panel, up in front, so you can spot them at a glance without even letting go of your cart,” Kircherr said.

The facts-up-front labels are part of an initiative with the GMA and Food Marketing Institute. The goal is to make it easier to see just how healthy your options are. Kircherr said the program is voluntary.

“There’s over 100 brands that are already using it, so, a store brand like IGA, or a national brand, across the country you can see these. It’s a voluntary program and it can be found in any grocery store across the country,” she said.

Because the facts-up-front labels are not in a mandatory program, the Center for Science in the Public Interest argues that the labels are simply a marketing tool. It wants the FDA to create another system.

Chan said she just wants to see the nutrition information presented upfront for everyone.

“I’ve got three kids, work full-time, I’m in school, as well, so packaged foods are easy for me, but I must, must know exactly what’s in everything,” she said.

Reporter:Lindsey Sablan
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