Pear in Mind: A Blog in the Public Interest

A vast body of scientific research points to the public health benefits of simple nutrition information on the front of food packages. Studies say these “front-of-package nutrition labels” (FOPNL) nudge consumers towards healthier choices while grocery shopping and push food manufacturers to improve the nutritional quality of their products. Labels that call attention to products with high levels of sodium, sugar, or saturated fat appear to be particularly effective at influencing both consumer and industry behavior. 

The Center for Science in the Public Interest has been calling for FOPNL since 2006. Since then: 

  • FDA held a public hearing on FOPNL in 2007 

  • The Institute of Medicine (now called the National Academy of Medicine) issued a report recommending that FDA adopt FOPNL in 2012 

  • Twelve members of Congress have co-sponsored the Food Labeling Modernization Act which would direct FDA to adopt a mandatory FOPNL system 

  • The U.S. House of Representatives urged FDA to explore mandatory front-of-package labeling in its 2023 appropriations bill, passed earlier this summer 

  • And dozens of other countries, including both of our neighbors— Canada and Mexico— have adopted FOPNL systems 

Now, CSPI is turning up the heat on FDA to develop a FOPNL system for packaged foods sold in the United States. Earlier this month, we submitted a regulatory petition calling on the agency to issue regulations requiring an easy-to-understand, standardized system that is: 

1. mandatory 
2. nutrient-specific 
3. evaluates the levels of added sugars, sodium, and saturated fat per serving 
4. includes calories 

Here are some examples of labels from other countries that would meet these criteria: 

Examples of nutrient-specific, interpretive nutrition labels implemented in the UK (left), Mexico (middle), and Ecuador (right)

Examples of nutrient-specific, interpretive nutrition labels implemented in the UK (left), Mexico (middle), and Ecuador (right)

As legislators and public health stakeholders issue renewed calls for FOPNL, FDA has announced plans to host consumer focus groups on FOPNL this summer. We’re excited about this development, and plan to keep the pressure on! 

Click here to take action by commenting in support of our petition for mandatory FOPNL.