Facts Up Front launches education campaign

by Eric Schroeder
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WASHINGTON — The Grocery Manufacturers Association and the Food Marketing Institute have unveiled a national consumer education campaign to bolster awareness and understanding of Facts Up Front, a nutrient-based labeling system launched by the G.M.A. and the F.M.I. in 2011. The announcement comes a little less than a year after the two organizations launched a web site (www.factsupfront.org) in support of the initiative, and less than a week after the Food and Drug Administration released its proposed updates for the Nutrition Facts panel, including updating serving size requirements to reflect amounts people currently eat, and information about added sugars in a food product.

The G.M.A. and the F.M.I. said the program will be supported by a national advertising campaign to further educate consumers on the initiative and help them make informed food decisions for their families. At its core, Facts Up Front brings information from the Nutrition Facts panel and displays it in a simple and easy-to-use format on the front of food and beverage products.

“A recent literature review by the F.D.A. tells us that front-of-package labels are most effective when reinforced by an education program,” said Pamela G. Bailey, president and chief executive officer of the G.M.A. “With more than 50 companies voluntarily implementing Facts Up Front on their branded and private label products, it’s important for shoppers to know this tool is out there and that they understand how to use it. With Facts Up Front, we’re simplifying nutrition so everyone has the essential information needed to help build more healthful diets.”

Participating companies include Bimbo Bakeries USA, Campbell Soup Co., Coca-Cola Co., General Mills, Inc., Kellogg Co. and Kraft Foods Group, among others.

According to a recent on-line survey, conducted by Harris Poll between Feb. 3-5 among 2,035 adults on behalf of the G.M.A., more than 9 in 10 grocery shopping decision makers agree that Facts Up Front makes nutrition information easy to find and use (93%), and that it is simple to understand (92%). The education campaign will reach more consumers to build awareness of the label and help enhance their nutrition knowledge and ability to use Facts Up Front most effectively.  Facts Up Front advertising can be seen now across a variety of print and digital media through October 2014.

“Our research tells us that more than two-thirds of shoppers read food labels, looking for information related to sodium content, sugar, fat and calories,” said Leslie G. Sarasin, president and c.e.o. of the F.M.I. “Food retailers listen to their customers and the Facts Up Front Program gives these shoppers the information they’re looking for in a convenient, easily accessible format.”

To complement the advertising efforts, the campaign also includes an on-line toolkit to help retailers communicate Facts Up Front in stores — the place where most purchase decisions are made. All print, digital and in-store communications direct consumers to the Facts Up Front web site, available in both English and Spanish and optimized for mobile devices. FactsUpFront.org provides tools and resources that give visitors relevant nutrition information, including a nutrition calculator to determine specific calorie and nutrient needs, and also an interactive label that explains the nutrients featured in Facts Up Front, how they impact health and common sources of each.

The basic Facts Up Front label lists calories and information about saturated fat, sodium and sugar per serving — nutrients the government’s Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend limiting. Additionally, manufacturers also may include information on one or two nutrients to encourage — potassium, fiber, protein, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin D, calcium and iron.

Facts Up Front was developed in response to First Lady Michelle Obama’s call on the food and beverage industry to provide new tools for helping Americans construct a healthier diet. Facts Up Front is advised by an advisory panel of external third-party experts from health, nutrition and medical backgrounds. It is grounded in sound science and research on consumer messaging about nutrition, including the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, and has been designed to be flexible to accommodate changes to federal guidelines and regulations, including the Nutrition Facts panel.
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