Helping Guide Smart Food and Beverage Choices

The Smart Choices Program, a front-of-pack nutrition labeling program, is not currently conducting active operations pending the outcome of FDA’s front-of-package rulemaking process. For more information, view the program’s press release. The program was developed because of the need for a single front-of-pack nutrition labeling program that U.S. food manufacturers and retailers could voluntarily adopt to promote informed food choices and help consumers construct better diets.

The Smart Choices Program was created by a diverse group of scientists, academicians, health and research organizations, food and beverage manufacturers, and retailers. The group worked collaboratively to develop the program’s foundation, goals, and criteria using these guiding principles.

  • Transparent – both the nutrition criteria and governing mechanism would be shared openly
  • Coalition-based – scientists, academicians, nutrition educators, public health organizations, food manufacturers, retailers, and government observers came together to create the system
  • Comprehensive – program applied to diet and health needs of the entire U.S. population
  • Applied voluntarily – all food companies were encouraged to utilize this one system to reduce the clutter of multiple, individual company front-of-pack labeling systems previously on the market
  • Flexible – the nutrient criteria were based on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and were designed to be reviewed when the 2010 guidelines are released

Through this diverse group of stakeholders, the Smart Choices Program developed a comprehensive set of nutrition criteria based on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and other sources of nutrition science and authoritative dietary guidance. Products were required to meet these criteria in order to qualify for the program. The nutrition criteria covered food and beverages in 19 distinct product categories, including meats, fruits, vegetables, dairy, and snacks.