BOX S-1

Statement of Task—Phase I

An ad hoc committee was to be convened to “review systems being used by manufacturers, supermarkets, health organizations, and governments in the United States and abroad and the overall merits of front-label nutrition icons, the advantages and disadvantages of various approaches, and the potential benefits of a single, standardized front-label food guidance system regulated by the Food and Drug Administration.”


The committee was charged with the following tasks:

  • Identify front-of-package systems being used by manufacturers, supermarkets, health organizations, and governments in the United States and abroad;

  • Consider the purpose and overall merits of front-label icons;

  • Identify the criteria underlying the systems and evaluate their scientific basis;

  • Consider advantages and disadvantages of various approaches for adults and children; and

  • Using knowledge gained from its compilation and assessment of front-of-package systems, plan the second phase, which will consider the potential benefits of a single, standardized front-of-package food guidance system regulated by the FDA, and develop conclusions about which system(s) are most effective in promoting health and how to maximize the use and effectiveness of the system(s).

A second phase is also planned and will build on this report and consider the following:

  • The potential benefits of a single, standardized front-label food guidance system regulated by the Food and Drug Administration;

  • Assessment of which icons are most effective with consumer audiences; and

  • Development of conclusions about the systems and icons that best promote health and how to maximize their use.

  • 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 front-of-package systems will be consistent with the Nutrition Facts panel.

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

The committee’s deliberations were also informed by its findings about diet-related health concerns. The findings are:

Finding 1: Obesity, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and certain types of cancers are the health risks affecting the greatest number of Americans that are also most strongly associated with diet.


Finding 2: Americans consume too many calories, saturated fats, trans fats, and added sugars; too much sodium; and too little vitamin D, calcium, potassium, and fiber.



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