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Stumped at the Supermarket

Making sense of nutrition rating systems

Food & Beverages

The Nutrition, Labeling and Education Act of 1990 (NLEA) requires U.S. food manufacturers to disclose certain nutritional information about their products via standardized package labels.

Despite the efforts of Congress and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in enacting and implementing the NLEA, many American consumers are still stumped at the supermarket.

Studies suggest that nutrition labels are confusing to many consumers and have not necessarily helped them to make healthier dietary choices. While consumers often report that they use nutrition labels to guide their food purchasing decisions and dietary choices, research shows that actual use is less than reported and nutrition labels frequently leave consumers feeling confused.

This report analyzes the future of nutrition rating systems by looking at the major front-of-package labeling and grocery shelf rating systems and weighing their benefits against their potential to confuse consumers. It includes recommendations about additional research to evaluate the effectiveness of nutrition rating systems.