Rockville, MD—The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is currently asking for comments and data based on its new front-of-package nutrition labeling plan. In an effort to control misleading labels, the agency is looking for public participation in the creation of a standardized format for such labeling. FDA is soliciting information from experts in nutrition, design and marketing, along with consumers, to create the most effective system.

The campaign to resolve mislabeling issues started in October 2009 with the announcement that FDA would start regulating information on the front of food and beverage packages. More recently, in March 2010, letters were sent out to companies whose labels were said to mislead consumers in regards to products’ fat content, nutritional benefits and other claims.

FDA is now trying to create labels that clearly explain the nutritional information of food products in ways that consumers can easily understand. For this purpose, the agency is asking for comments from the public regarding different labeling approaches and their effectiveness.

The administration is hoping to find out what consumers find to be the most useful way of conveying information through these front-of-package labels, and the rate at which customers notice and utilize these tags. Along with the different means of displaying information, FDA is also asking for opinions about the design of the new format. Officials are asking for responses regarding the color, location and contrast of the labels. In addition to these design issues, FDA wants to make sure not to crowd the tag and create “information overload.”

FDA is also asking industry experts for research that compares different labeling techniques and their varied effectiveness, to help choose the most successful method.

With this feedback, FDA can more thoroughly understand consumers’ views on packaging. FDA is accepting comments until July 28, 2010.

Published in WholeFoods Magazine, June 2010