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Nutrition labeling goes digital

The Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) on Wednesday launched an interactive web-based tool for consumers that supports the Facts Up Front nutrition labeling initiative launched by GMA and the Food Marketing Institute (FMI) in 2011.

With Facts Up Front, characterized by the trade group as the most significant reform of food and beverage labels in over 20 years, important information from the Nutrition Facts Panel on the back of food and beverage products are displayed in a simple and easy-to-use format on the front of products.

“Facts Up Front empowers consumers to make informed choices. It arms them with critical nutrition information about their favorite products,” said Pamela G. Bailey, president and CEO of the GMA. “But to make the most of Facts Up Front, Americans need to understand what that information means, and how it relates to their calorie and nutrient needs. Through this website, we are providing consumers with the knowledge and tools they need to build a healthful diet.”

The interactive website (www.factsupfront.org) features facts and interactive tools designed to educate and empower consumers, including:

A Nutrition Calculator – Helps people determine the specific calorie and nutrient needs for themselves and their family members.

An Interactive Label – Explains all the nutrients featured in Facts Up Front, how they impact your health and common nutrient sources.

A Nutrition Quiz – Allows nutrition novices and savvy shoppers alike identify opportunities to learn more about building a healthful diet.

Shopping and Meal Planning Tips – Provide advice from registered dietitians to help Americans overcome common obstacles to creating healthful meals.

Recipes – Offer easy, delicious dishes made with products bearing the Facts Up Front label.

In addition to these consumer resources, there is also a section of the website for health professionals, which provides downloadable tools and resources for educating consumers, patients and clients. For example, there’s a guide for registered dietitians to help them plan a supermarket tour and research underpinning the Facts Up Front program. A Spanish-language version of the site was also launched along with mobile versions of the sites to reach on-the-go consumers.

Facts Up Front labels highlight nutrition information – calories, saturated fat, sodium and sugar per serving – in a clear, easy-to-understand format. The labels also provide consumers with valuable information about “nutrients to encourage,” the nutrients essential for a balanced diet, as well as those currently under-consumed by most Americans. The labeling program was developed in response to First Lady Michelle Obama’s call on the food and beverage industry to help consumers construct a healthy diet for themselves and their families.