The Institute of Medicine (IOM) just released a report about making a new food package grading system. Here is an overview of what they said. For more information see www.iom.edu/frontofpackage2
Challenge: Over the past decade, many various “food grading systems” have been implemented by various entities. They are inconsistent, often do not con-ey true healthfulness and they confuse customers.
Solution: A new standardized Front of Package (FOP) food grading system, similar to the Energy Star energy efficiency grading system, needs to be implemented so consumers can understand if a food is really healthful. This will also motivate manufacturers to make better products.
Ideas: The FOP grading system should appear on all foods and be easy to understand. It should include calories from household serving sizes and a 3 point system for foods with saturated and trans fat, sodium and added sugar. And it should be integrated with the Nutrition Facts Panel so it is mandatory.
We really like that they note that the grading system is solely made on the big three: saturated fat, trans fat, and sodium because excesses of these are the root of the most pressing health problems. Plus they added “added sugars” because the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans makes a recommendation to avoid those. The IOM recommends that if a food or beverage contains any of these three critical nutrients in amounts above a threshhold they are not eligible for earning the three FOP points.
For example, 100 percent whole wheat bread could earn all three points, graham crackers could earn two points for fats and sodium, and an oat and peanut butter bar could earn one point for sodium. The more points earned, the more a product helps consumers avoid harmful amounts of these nutrients, which have been linked to obesity, diabetes, and high blood pressure among other illnesses.
Stephanie Ronco has been editing for Food and Health Communications since 2011. She graduated from Colorado College magna cum laude with distinction in Comparative Literature. She was elected a member of Phi Beta Kappa in 2008.