(NIN, 1999). In addition, some consumers state that they want both pieces of information—the % DVs and the absolute amounts—because they seek different information depending upon the nutrient and the food item (NIN, 1999).

Third, the food label would be a more useful teaching tool for nutrition and health professionals, especially for teaching persons on special diets. This information would be particularly useful if the food label declared not only the absolute amount of micronutrients and % DV per serving, but also the % DV for a special group if a food also is being targeted to that group. Nutrition educators contend that the presence of absolute amounts for micronutrients on food labels would make it easier to educate consumers about nutrient needs that are unique to a particular life stage and gender group (Osteoporosis Society of Canada, 2003).

Fourth, absolute amounts and % DVs (when they exist) for macronutrients already are required in the Nutrition Facts box. Adding absolute amounts for micronutrients on food labels would make the label more internally consistent in the way information is provided to consumers.

Fifth, absolute amounts and % DVs (when they exist) already are required on the Supplement Facts box. Adding absolute amounts for micronutrients in the Nutrition Facts box would make the consumer information for conventional food and dietary supplements consistent.

Finally, one problem in communicating information on food labels is the inconsistency of the terminology used to describe nutrient levels in food. On the front panel, where nutrient information may be provided with a nutrient content or health claim, the level of the particular nutrient is expressed qualitatively or in a relative sense, for example, “good” or “excellent” source or “reduced/less.” In the Nutrition Facts box, however, nutrient information for vitamins and minerals is expressed as a % DV.

Potential Drawbacks to Adding Absolute Amounts to the Nutrition Facts Box

Adding absolute amounts for micronutrients to the Nutrition Facts box has potential drawbacks. First, adding absolute amounts would require more label space, making the label visually more complex and requiring companies to devote more product package space to the nutrition label or to reduce type size.

Second, the additional information on the label might make it more difficult for consumers to use the label to make healthy food



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