NCA comments on labelling

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The National Confectioners Association (NCA) has commented on Front-of-Pack labelling and Shelf Tag Nutrition Symbols.

Alison Bodor, senior vice president of Public Policy, says, “NCA supports the important goal of reducing the childhood obesity epidemic in the United States and recognizes that FDA believes FOP labeling could bring about positive changes in Americans’ diets. The specific goal of an FOP nutrition label is to increase the proportion of consumers who readily notice, understand and use the available information to make more balanced selections with regard to nutrition.”

According to IFIC’s 2010 Food and Health Survey, 68% of Americans say they are actively using the Nutrition Facts Panel (NFP) already. While FOP labels will make label information more visible to those consumers who are not willing or don’t have the time to review the NFP information, there is still a large gap in consumer understanding of how to use basic nutrition information, starting with calories.

Bodor adds that there are several elements to a FOP scheme that would make the option more attractive to confectioners. “FOP labels should be fact-based as opposed to a single indicator of healthfulness that will inaccurately position some foods as bad foods. Moderation and balance are keys to enjoying confections in a healthy diet. By knowing the calorie and nutrient content of candy, consumers can decide for themselves if and how to incorporate them appropriately. Confectionery manufacturers are more likely to accept an FOP scheme that promotes responsible consumption in a positive, fact-based manner rather than a scheme that positions candy as a food to be avoided.”

A FOP scheme must allow for a variety of packaging sizes and shapes and a small package exemption should be considered. “Confections are offered for sale in a variety of portion sizes and packaging options to meet individual consumer needs. Many candies are sold in individual serving size packages that are small and often uniquely shaped. For some candies (such as regular size candy bars) there is limited space available for additional labeling. For other candies (penny candy dispensed in bulk containers) there is not additional space available. Other candies are sold in bulk assortment packages – sometimes 5-10 different types of candy in the package. The NFP lists the nutrient content information in panel format for each candy type, but this would be impossible in an FOP scheme.”

Finally, a calorie-only FOP scheme has the greatest likelihood of being adopted broadly by confectioners. Bodor notes, “This is especially the case for foods like confections that are clearly treats in the diets. Calorie-only FOP labeling is also a way to offer flexibility for small packages although even calories may be difficult on some very small or uniquely shaped units.”

Source: Confectionery Production