this approach to evaluating added sugars, led the committee to conclude that added sugars are an important component that should be included in an FOP nutrition rating system. This conclusion is consistent with the principle that an FOP symbol system should not inadvertently promote products that are inconsistent with current federal dietary guidance.


The committee reviewed published evidence and data submitted by stakeholders and consultants and developed conclusions about FOP systems that will be effective in attracting consumer attention and encouraging them to make healthier food choices. Specifically, the committee’s examination of the totality of the available evidence led to the following conclusions:

•   To be effective, FOP nutrition labels must compete in a very busy and ever-changing package environment that includes an array of messages designed to capture consumer attention and promote products.

•   Nutrition information provided in an FOP symbol system should be based on the most recent Dietary Guidelines for Americans and current consensus reports.

•   There is a need for a standardized FOP nutrition rating system that moves beyond providing information to one that encourages product comparison and healthier food choices by consumers at the point of purchase.

•   FOP systems that are simple and easy to understand more effectively encourage consumers to choose healthier products.

•   Consumers are making point-of-purchase decisions about food products in very little time and in the face of a diverse and growing number of stimuli on food packages.

•   Campaigns that guide consumers to look in a specific location for the specific symbol would maximize the use and benefit of an FOP system.

Furthermore, the committee identified three outcomes that an FOP system should produce in order to be successful among a broad range of consumers. The system must:

•   encourage consumers to make healthier choices at the point of purchase,

•   encourage food and beverage companies to provide healthier offerings by reformulating products or developing new ones, and promoting those healthier offerings, and

•   encourage retailers to highlight those healthier offerings.


Given the goal of increasing healthier choices, the committee looked closely at a number of FOP and shelf tag systems that have demonstrated some success in the marketplace. The committee focused less on what consumers said and more on what they did, as measured by in-market retail sales. The committee also focused on consumers’ processing and use of nutrition rating symbols in a cluttered on-package environment. Based on the evidence reviewed in the preceding chapters, the committee determined that the type of nutrition rating symbol system most likely to be successful in enabling healthier food choice and purchase decisions will be:

•   simple, understanding does not require specific or sophisticated nutritional knowledge;

•   interpretive, nutrition information is provided as guidance rather than as specific facts;

•   ordinal, nutritional guidance is offered through a scaled or ranked approach; and

•   supported by communication with readily remembered names or identifiable symbols.

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