Food News: 3 New Labels for Packaged Foods

While there are multiple ways to purchase groceries, consumers still need time to make a list and then read and decipher food labels. With nearly 20,000 new products hitting the shelves annually, you almost need a PhD in nutrition to understand some of the information on those labels.

Today I want to talk about some new front-of-the-package symbols, which may make shopping life a little bit easier. These are non-government, third-party-authorized seals that quickly let people know if a product meets certain standards.

A few earlier labels of this type include Nuval and Facts up Front. Nuval started in 2008 and was a collaborative effort between Topco Associates, LLC, and Griffin Hospital of Derby, Connecticut. Griffin Hospital is a non-profit community hospital and houses the Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center. Nutrition professionals and medical experts, including Dr. David Katz, assisted in the development of Nuval. Its system assigns a nutrition score to foods to make it easier for consumers to quickly choose healthful options. With Nuval, the higher the score, the higher the nutritional value of the food.

Facts Up Front is another system that was developed by the Grocery Manufacturers Association. It is a voluntary program that shows the calories, grams of saturated fat, sugar, and sodium in a serving of food on the front of its package. Labels also may display additional information, including fiber and calcium content. Facts Up Front are based on nutrition science and are taken right from the Nutrition Facts label.

Logos like the American Heart Association’s Heart Check Mark on packaged foods and the Certified Humane Seal on eggs, meat, and dairy are meant to help consumers navigate the grocery store with ease and to encourage companies to develop products that meet the desired standards. Standards for the AHA heart check mark include foods with less than 6.5 grams of fat, 1 gram of saturated fat, less than 0.5 grams of trans fat, 20 mg of cholesterol or less, and varying amounts of sodium allowed depending on the product.

Three new food label stamps that will help to improve the nutrition profile of food that makes it to the store and help shoppers make better choices are coming soon, so I’d like to take a closer look at each one so that you and your clients know what’s coming.

The first is the Good Housekeeping “Nutritionist Approved” emblem. Items that are granted this seal have been given the green light by Jacylyn London, the registered dietitian who developed the program. London, the nutrition director of the Good Housekeeping Institute, evaluates products that have applied for the seal to be sure they are aligned with the 2015-2020 US Dietary Guidelines for Americans. In addition, the product must comply with the companies’ core values of simplicity (makes is simpler for consumer to keep a healthful habit and/or has simple ingredients and fewer additives than their counterparts), transparency (contains accurate claims on products that are not misleading to consumers) and innovation (utilizes current technologies to make healthier habits simpler for consumers and/or boost sustainability).

To receive the stamp, a product does not need to be 100% healthful, but does need to be a wise choice in a particular category. You may see the seal on bagged salad or a low-fat frozen dinner as well as a mini dark chocolate candy. The program not only alerts consumers of healthier choices, it also incentivizes the company to produce and market improved products. Companies pay a licensing fee for the seal, which includes consulting fees. The Nutritionist Approved seal started in October 2016 with nine brands and is growing quickly. In the long-term, the hope is to expand it for use in airports, restaurants, and movie theaters.

Another stamp that will be hitting the shelves soon was developed by Carolyn Sluyter of Oldways. Sluyter is the manager of the Whole Grain Stamp Program. The new stamp is the 50% whole grain stamp, which was developed to complement two other stamps- the “100% Whole Grain” stamp and the general “Whole Grain” stamp. The former is self-explanatory, and the latter can be used on foods that are made with some whole grains, specifically 20 grams or more per serving. These new stamps make it easier for consumers to identify foods made with whole grains.

The third stamp, Certified Transitional, is a new stamp that may be used by farmers to reflect that they are in the process of becoming certified organic. Many farmers cannot afford the 3-year transition it requires to become certified organic. Developed by Kashi after they were unable to source organic almonds for their cereal, the program means to support farmers in the transition period, which would assist shoppers to directly affect US organic agriculture. Although Kashi is the only brand with this seal, it can be utilized by any company managed by Quality Assurance International, an independent third-party certifying agency. During the transitional period, farmers are paid a premium price for their organic products, in turn provides financial support. Nicole Nestojko, senior director of supply chain and sustainability at Kashi, believes that Certified Transitional is more than just a stamp, it is a movement to alter the food system.

By Lisa Andrews, MED, RD, LD

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Display of the Month: New Food Label

It’s time for another display of the month, and this one is all about the new format of the Nutrition Facts label. Did you know that these new labels are already hitting stores? Help your clients use the new food labels to improve their eating patterns by inspiring them with this great display…

The Materials:

The Activities:

  • The Label Says: Nutrition Facts Label Game
  • Food Label Comparison: What a Difference a Label Makes

The Display:

Instead of setting up a tabletop display as we’ve done in the past, this month’s display can be arranged on a bulletin board or a spare space on any wall. If you’d like to adapt it to a tabletop display, you absolutely can, and you’ll probably need a few of these fabulous Tabletop Easels to ease the transition.

Anyway, make either or both of the New Food Label Posters or Food Label Math Posters the center of your display (if you have more room, you can also use the 48-inch by 36-inch Nutrition Facts Banner). Surround your poster or banner with stickers and bookmarks so that the whole display looks like a sunburst with the posters or banner in the middle.

Either tear off a few handouts from the Nutrition Facts Tearpad or mount the whole thing to the wall just to the right of your sunbursts so that interested parties can take a sheet home for themselves. Balance the handouts on the other side with the 26-inch by 62-inch Food Label Banner and Stand. Arrange the Nutrition Facts Floor Sticker in front of your display for an extra-intriguing draw to your information, then step back and admire the view.

Activity Leader Guide:

To play The Label Says: Nutrition Facts Label Game, you’ll need a projector, a screen, and a copy of the The Label Says: Nutrition Facts Label PowerPoint presentation. Everything else you need is built into the presentation itself, so as long as you review it before you start presenting, you’ll simply need to turn it on and work your way through the slides. In this game, participants will evaluate a food based on information from its Nutrition Facts label, learning common label-reading mistakes and exploring healthful eating pattern strategies along the way. The I Know How to Read a Food Label Stickers and New Food Label Bookmarks make great prizes and incentives!

For the second activity, Food Label Comparison: What a Difference a Label Makes, you’ll need to do a bit more legwork. Bring in a few varieties of the same foods (3 fruit juices, 3 cans of beans, etc) that each have different Nutrition Facts. Compare across the types of foods and find the most healthful options as a group. What parts of the label were the most useful? Why? Use this activity to highlight the impact of reading a food label on health, explaining that the new Nutrition Facts label is a helpful tool for developing and maintaining a healthful eating pattern.

Other Fantastic Display Ideas:

We’ve been putting together these display posts for a while now, so there’s lots of inspiration available for a wide range of health and nutrition topics. Which ones will be the most useful for you?

Store Links:

Here’s a closer look at some of the top new food label resources that my team and I have created…

Nutrition at a Glance

Here’s a fun new way to help your clients learn and remember key nutrition lessons.

A brand-new poster!

Everyone gets so confused about how to eat healthfully. In today’s society, proper nutrition comes from following MyPlate, reading food labels, and eating the best options from each of the food groups. The Nutrition at a Glance poster shows key nutrition lessons in three easy steps. Plus, each step has an exciting visual of food!

  • Step 1: Let macronutrients put their best food forward! Think lean, high fiber, and nutrient dense!
  • Step 2: Get your vitamins and minerals from food! Follow MyPlate and get a varied diet with all of the food groups.
  • Step 3: Learn how to read food labels so you can make the best choices that are lower in added fat, sugar, and salt (sodium).

This poster makes a fun visual for any room or event! It is even perfect for Nutrition Month celebrations!

at a glance

To celebrate this fun new resource, I want to give you the handout that comes with it, for free!

Here you go!

Let’s Talk Nutrients:

There are 3 different types of macronutrients — the nutrients in your eating pattern that make up the bulk of what you consume each day. Those 3 macronutrients are carbohydrates, fats, and protein.

Protein is important for the creation and maintenance of your bones, skin, and muscles. Carbohydrates are the source of most of your energy. Fat helps your body absorb nutrients and also provides energy.

Choose high-fiber carbohydrates, lean protein, and heart-healthy fats (you can find them in plants and fish). This will help you get the 3 major macronutrients from healthful food sources.

Get Your Vitamins and Minerals from Food:

Balance your meals using MyPlate and its 5 food groups: vegetables, fruit, protein, grains, and dairy.

That way, you will eat a varied diet with adequate nutrients in the calories allotted.

Avoid Extra Processed Food Dangers by Reading Food Labels:

Added sugars, excess sodium, and both trans and saturated fat have been linked to elevated risk of chronic disease.

Minimizing these will help you keep your body in tip-top shape!

Here’s a printable PDF copy of the handout!

nutritionataglance-copy

And here are a few fun nutrition resources from the Nutrition Education Store!

 

New Nutrition Facts Label Display

There are lots of brand-new resources to help you teach your clients all about how to use the brand-new, just-released-this-week Nutrition Facts label! Here is a fun way to turn these materials into an educational display that will communicate key messages to your audience.

Wellness fair Booth

  • Combine this new Nutrition Facts Poster with an Educational Handout in a bulletin board display. This is a great way to decorate your office or classroom with timely and educational materials. You could also put the poster onto a Tabletop Easel at your next wellness fair booth.
  • The new Nutrition Facts Poster has a list of activities you can do with the food label in order to help consumers practice their newly gained knowledge.
  • Speaking of wellness fair booths, this 48″ by 36″ Nutrition Label Vinyl Banner would be a great way to add a pop of color and key lessons to the front of your table. Or you could try the matching Banner and Stand as a way to communicate this vital information. Make the entrance more dramatic to your wellness fair display with a food label floor sticker!
  • These colorful and creative Nutrition Facts Stickers and Nutrition Facts Bookmarks offer a fun way to teach your audience about the new label in a less formal setting. With memorable information presented in a bright and engaging way, these resources are so much more than just pretty prizes.
  • You can combine all of the materials above into a fantastic display, which you can use at health and wellness fairs or as decoration in places like break rooms and cafeterias.

Nutrition Facts Label Banner

If you’d like to do an interactive activity, these resources can help you too! For example, you could have people bring in the Nutrition Facts label for one of their favorite foods. While the changes won’t be required until 2018, manufacturers will be rolling out the new labels and your participants will be reading both styles in the store so a variety is welcome. Distribute the Nutrition Facts Handout or put up a copy of the Nutrition Facts Poster or Vinyl Banner and have people write down how the information from their panel would be presented in the new panel. What information is missing? How could those details inform healthful choices? What information is more prominent on the new label? How might that affect their assessment of the food? Discuss their impressions, offering Nutrition Facts Stickers and Nutrition Facts Bookmarks as prizes for participation or insight.

Wellness fair Booth

View the New Food Label Poster, banners, tearpad handouts, bookmark, stickers and more here:newfoodlabel-poster