Food Makers to Put Uniform Nutrition Symbols on Package Fronts

By Molly Peterson – Jan 24, 2011

U.S. food and beverage companies will start putting uniform nutrition symbols on package fronts as part of an industry push to combat obesity, two trade groups said.

The labels will include calorie counts and the amount of saturated fat, sodium and sugars for each serving, the Food Marketing Institute and the Grocery Manufacturers Association said today in an e-mailed statement. Consumers will start to see the symbols, called “nutrition keys,” in the next few months, the groups said.

The Food and Drug Administration has pushed for uniform labels on food and beverage containers to help reduce the nation’s obesity rate. The number of people in the U.S. who are obese has more than doubled in the past 30 years to 72 million, according to the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. People who are overweight or obese have greater risk of diabetes, heart attacks and strokes.

“Helping consumers make informed decisions is not just good business sense, it is the right thing to do,” Gary Rodkin, chief executive officer of ConAgra Foods Inc., and chairman of GMA’s board of directors, said in the statement.

To contact the reporter on this story: Molly Peterson in Washington at [email protected]

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Adriel Bettelheim at [email protected]