Will You Have A Gold Star Shopping Plan?

By , SparkPeople Blogger
Last month I shared information about the new voluntary Facts Up Front package labeling system proposed by the GMA (Grocery Manufacturers Association) and the FMI (Food Marketing Institute). I also mentioned that the IOM (Institute of Medicine) would be providing their consensus report and recommendations as well. Well, the IOM has released their final report and recommendations for front-of-package nutrition rating systems and symbols to help promote healthier food choices. It looks like instead of playing the game of red light, green light, they would rather give us gold stars.

The IOM report recommends going away from front-of-package systems that only provide fact based information. This is largely because they provide no guidance or interpretation regarding the healthfulness of the product based on the nutrition facts provided. Instead, they recommend a simple visual that would allow consumers to make healthier selections without additional reading or interpretation. The IOM recommends the FDA develop a point system consistent with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans that focuses specifically on the saturated and trans fats, sugars and sodium content of the food or beverage. The higher the point value, the healthier the product is thought to be. The point system would transfer into zero to three symbols such as stars or check marks. The belief is that the consumer would be able to interpret quickly the nutritional value of a product by the number of symbols. Consumers might find no stars, check marks, or symbols on a potato chips bag, two on raisin bran flakes cereal, and three on whole grain bread.
The American Dietetic Association applauds the IOM report and recommendations especially if the symbols are integrated with nutrition facts and appear in a consistent location on all product labels. It is possible for the symbols recommended in the IOM report to work with the Facts Up Front nutrition information highlights since they both focus predominantly on calories per serving, fat, sodium, and sugars. It is unclear if FDA and private industry will collaborate to merge aspects of each but the decision for implementation now resides with the Food and Drug Administration.
Do you think a zero to three stars visual on product packages would help you make healthier food and beverage choices when you are shopping for groceries?