Statement of CSPI Executive Director Michael Jacobson
In 2011 the Institute of Medicine recommended that the Food and Drug Administration design a mandatory, front-of-package labeling system that would instantly communicate a food's overall healthfulness. Whether such a system used red, yellow, and green dots, a numerical score, or a letter grade, such labeling would clearly distinguish truly healthful foods from less healthful ones. CSPI petitioned the FDA to design and implement a front-of-package labeling system back in 2006.
To be clear, the industry's voluntary "Facts Up Front" is not such a system. It is aimed more at preempting an FDA-designed system than at providing easy-to-understand "nutrition in a nutshell" information for consumers. Its voluntary nature means you may not see it on junk foods. And even if you did, it wouldn't successfully highlight the food's unhealthfulness. Facts Up Front is a joke that should be roundly ignored by the FDA and the Administration. We need an FDA-designed front-of-package system that is mandatory, easily understood by even less-educated consumers, and science-based.