The Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) and the Food Marketing Institute (FMI) in the United States launched a new nutrition education website last month to encourage consumers to make better informed food choices. Incorporating interactive and user-friendly features, the new website will act in support of the Facts Up Front nutrition labelling initiative which was jointly established by the GMA and FMI in 2011.

After the website launch, FIA had the opportunity to speak to Mary Sophos, Executive Vice President for Policy and Strategic Planning at GMA. She shared more about the Facts Up Front initiative and how the new website will benefit consumers.

FIA: What is the Facts Up Front nutrition labelling initiative?
Sophos:
Facts Up Front is a nutrient-based labelling system that was first developed following First Lady Michelle Obama’s call to the food and beverage industry in 2010 to help consumers make informed diet decisions for themselves and their families.

Facts Up Front uses a fact-based approach to summarise important nutrition information such as calories, saturated fat, sodium and sugar per serving from the Nutrition Facts Panel in a clear and easy-to-read format.

The Nutrition Facts Panel is commonly found at the side or back of food packages. Through this initiative, information from the Panel is moved to the front of food and beverage packages, enabling consumers to get a quick view of the important nutrition information about food and beverage products as they are shopping..

FIA: How will the new website support this initiative?
Sophos:
The new interactive website provides consumers with tools that can further equip them with the knowledge and information needed to build a healthy diet. It includes features such as the Interactive Label that gives consumers an explanation of all the nutrients featured in the Facts Up Front initiative and how these nutrients impact one’s health.

Other features include the Nutrition Calendar and Nutrition Quiz which help consumers find out their specific calorie and nutrient needs, and identify the ways in which they can learn more about building a healthy diet. The site includes recipes and shopping and meal tips from registered dieticians to help consumers overcome the challenges in creating healthy meals.

Additional website resources, such as the website for health professionals, give nutrition and healthcare professionals a platform to educate consumers further on the Facts Up Front initiatives and how to use it in planning a healthy and balanced meal.

FIA: What do you hope to achieve from the Facts Up Front initiative and the new website?
Sophos:
The Facts Up Front initiative is designed to provide key nutrition information in an accessible, easy-to-use format and the launch of the website is a major milestone in our commitment to provide consumers with the tools and information they need to build healthful diets. Every day, more and more food and beverage products carry the Facts Up Front label and we are working to raise awareness of the nutrition resources that are available to consumers on the website to promote understanding and use of the new labels.

Because the website is a critical nutrition education component of the Facts Up Front initiative, we talked extensively with consumers about the kind of information they want and we also relied on advice from a panel of third party health, nutrition, medical and communication experts. So we are very excited to share these new tools and resources to help consumers build their nutrition knowledge and increase their use of nutrition information on the label to choose the products that are right for them and their families.