New Smart Choices Program Puts Nutrition Front and Center

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New Smart Choices Program Puts Nutrition Front and Center

NSF International and the American Society for Nutrition (ASN) recently announced their joint roles in administering the Smart Choices Program™ — a new nutritional front-of-package labeling program. The labeling program will provide manufacturers and retailers with a front-of-pack icon, plus calorie information that helps consumers recognize smarter food and beverage products within product categories.

The goal of this new labeling program is to bring consistency and clarity to the U.S. marketplace, and make it easier for consumers to identify healthier food and beverage selections. Currently, there is little uniformity in front-of-pack labels, which can cause consumer confusion.

The ASN and NSF International will act as program administrators, providing both scientific and technical expertise to a board of directors comprised of nonprofit, scientific and industry representatives.

“NSF International’s core business is certifying products and writing standards for food, water and consumer goods in order to protect public health,” said Nancy Culotta, NSF vice president. “This labeling program will assist consumers in choosing nourishing foods and beverages that fit within their daily caloric needs.”

To qualify for the Smart Choices Program, all products must meet the science-based standards for positive attributes, such as nutrients like calcium, potassium, fiber, magnesium, vitamin A, vitamin C and vitamin E. The products also must limit things like total fat, saturated fat, trans fat, added sugars and sodium. Qualifying criteria were developed for 19 different product categories, including beverages, cereals, meats, dairy and snacks. Smart Choices products also must encourage certain food groups, such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat or fat-free dairy.

Products that meet the criteria are eligible to bear the Smart Choices icon on the front of the package. Accompanying the Smart Choices icon will be information on the number of calories per serving, as well as the number of servings in the package.

Companies that have already signed up to participate in the program include ConAgra Foods, General Mills, Kellogg Company, Kraft Foods, PepsiCo, SunMaid and Unilever. For more information, visit