NEWS BITE: IFIC Foundation Consumer Research Informs FDA on Proposed Changes to Nutrition Labeling

On June 26, 2014, FDA held a public meeting to discuss two proposed Rules aimed at updating nutrition information and serving sizes on food labels to help consumers maintain healthful dietary practices. As part of the meeting, the general public had the opportunity to provide oral comments.

IFIC Foundation’s senior vice president of nutrition and food safety, Marianne Smith Edge, MS, RD, LD, FADA, FAND, delivered oral comments discussing two related consumer research projects conducted by the  IFIC Foundation.

In 2006-2008 IFIC Foundation conducted a 3-phase consumer research project to examine what changes to the current label would be most desired and best understood by consumers. Consistent with many of the changes recently proposed by FDA, the study found that people prefer to see more prominent and better placed calorie information, for serving sizes to be more reflective of amounts typically consumed, and for information currently in the footnote to be moved into an easily referenced third column in the body of the Nutrition Facts Panel (NFP).  IFIC Foundation shared these insights with FDA in 2009.

Recently, IFIC Foundation concluded a two-phase consumer study to examine how the current proposed changes to the NFP may impact consumer behavior. The study has yielded observations on components of the NFP that the Foundation had not previously studied, namely the potential impact of a declaration for “added sugars” on the label. 

The varied and conflicting interpretation by consumers with respect to a potential “added sugars” line on the NFP is a great reminder of the critical role that consumer research and testing must play prior to the implementation of proposed label changes.

IFIC Foundation shared its preliminary findings in written comments to FDA on August 1, 2014 and plans to pursue publication of the findings in a peer-reviewed journal. 

For more information, see IFIC Foundation press release: IFIC Foundation Submits Consumer Research Comments to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Proposed Updates to the Nutrition Facts Panel

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