second phase, and a number of questions to be addressed have been raised by the committee. These are described in Chapter 7.


In assessing FOP nutrition rating systems and symbols, one must consider both nutrition science aspects and consumer aspects. This first phase focuses on the nutrition science aspects. Phase II and its report will consider the consumer aspects of developing FOP nutrition rating systems and symbols.

In evaluating the nutrition science of FOP systems and symbols, the committee adopted definitions of common terms along with four guiding principles to set the stage for the nutritional assessment of FOP systems and symbols. These principles were intended to assist in identifying the systems and elements of systems that were most important for improving the health of the American public. In addition, these guiding principles were intended to assist in identifying system criteria that could be realistically implemented in the current food environment. The guiding principles are:

  • A well-balanced, high-quality diet consistent with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans is essential for the health of Americans, and front-of-package labeling is one tool among many geared toward helping Americans make healthful choices. Other such tools include MyPyramid, the Nutrition Facts panel, and health and nutrient content claims.

  • Front-of-package systems will focus on nutrients or food components that are most strongly associated with the diet-related health risks affecting the greatest number of Americans.

  • The information highlighted in FOP systems will be consistent with the Nutrition Facts panel.

  • Front-of-package systems will apply to as many foods as possible.

FOP nutrition rating systems, for the purpose of this report, include systems and symbols which indicate energy content or that state that a product meets system-specific criteria either for nutrients to limit or nutrients to encourage or both. While symbols are most often placed on the front, they may also be found on the side, top, or back panels of food packages or displayed on shelf tags in food retail stores.


This report is organized as follows: Chapter 1 provides an introduction to the work of the committee. Chapter 2 offers a history of nutrition labeling, and Chapter 3 discusses the emergence of FOP systems. Chapter 4 provides an overview of health and diet in the United States. Chapter 5 discusses the purpose and merits of FOP systems. Chapter 6 presents the committee’s review of important scientific issues with implications for FOP nutrition rating systems and symbols and also identifies various system strengths and limitations. Chapter 7 presents the committee’s conclusions. Five appendixes provide additional information for the reader. Appendix A provides a glossary as well as an extensive list of abbreviations and acronyms. Appendix B includes requirements for most FDA-regulated nutrient content claims. Appendix C contains sample product evaluations drawn on in Chapter 6. Appendix D provides the workshop program, and Appendix E is the committee biographical sketches.

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