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GMA Calls for Improvements to Nutrition Labeling

WASHINGTON -- In a media briefing held here yesterday, the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) detailed several suggestions for improving nutrition labeling on packaged foods and beverages, including specific recommendations for single-serve packages.

"During the past decade, the Nutrition Facts Panel has become an easily recognized source of information among consumers," said GMA's senior director of nutrition and regulatory policy, Alison Kretser. "However, because of the current design, consumers do not always link caloric content to the serving size listed. Some simple changes to the Nutrition Facts Panel could help consumers make smarter dietary choices."

In comments submitted to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), GMA recommended that FDA increase and bold the font size of both serving size and calories information, and eliminate the line that visually separates these two interdependent pieces of information. GMA also suggested that FDA allow companies to add a footnote directing consumers to for personalized nutrition information.

GMA suggested two design options for single-serve packages, including a dual column format that would list nutrition information per serving and per package. For products with limited labeling space, companies could instead add a single line declaring, "Calories Per Container." Both options would allow companies to remind consumers about the appropriate serving size while providing them with simplified information about caloric content for the entire package, GMA said.

"Serving sizes listed in the Nutrition Facts Panel should reflect the government's nutrition recommendations in the authoritative 2005 Dietary Guidelines and the new MyPyramid," added Kretser. "However, for packaged foods and beverages that could be consumed during a single eating occasion, companies should have the flexibility of listing the amount of calories and nutrients for the entire package as well as per serving."

In other GMA news, the association reported that the food, beverage, and consumer products industry has thus far contributed tens of millions of dollars to hurricane relief efforts.

"The food, beverage, and consumer products industry has stepped up to the challenge of helping to meet the needs of those affected by Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath by making generous donations to hurricane relief efforts," said GMA president and c.e.o. C. Manly Molpus in a statement.

To date, GMA member companies have reported donating more than $14 million in cash; more than $10 million worth of foods and needed products; millions of bottles of water; and nearly 100 truckloads of goods to a variety of relief organizations. Product donations have included bottled water, diapers, infant formula, canned meals, energy and cereal bars, and disinfecting household cleaning supplies.
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