emphasis made by grouping, format, or letter size of those nutrients for which consumers are encouraged to increase their intake (e.g., calcium). The priorities of required nutrient selection, label design, and other factors need to be reviewed in light of the potential positive message tone and educational value that could be presented for nutrients included on the label.
In 1973 the selection of nutrients and food components to be included on nutrition labeling was primarily based on ameliorating nutritional deficiencies and on illustrating the positive and negative nutrient content of food. In 1990 FDA critically reviewed these nutrients, modified the list, and placed more emphasis on food components associated with chronic diseases and less emphasis on nutrient-deficiency diseases. In particular the revision placed emphasis on those nutrients that reflected the primary public health objective of a reduction in the risk of cardiovascular disease and the secondary objective of a reduction in the risk of cancer.
Periodic reviews of the key scientific issues of public health significance and whether these issues are being addressed by nutrition labeling will help to maintain the scientific currency of the information provided to consumers. These reviews should include discussions with scientific experts to ascertain if the nutrients listed in the Nutrition Facts box reflect the most current scientific understanding of the nutrition, health, and disease relationships important for public health. Appropriate revisions to nutrition labeling should be considered based on these discussions. While changes in the nutrients required in the Nutrition Facts box can have significant ramifications for food manufacturers, the representation of public health issues and positive health messages only can be accomplished by these periodic reviews and, if necessary, revisions to the list of nutrients required in the Nutrition Facts box.