The new front-of-pack symbol will be allowed only on those products that meet strict science-based nutrition criteria based on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and additional sources of authoritative guidance from consensus science, including FDA standards and reports from the Institute of Medicine and other groups.
Fact-Based Calorie Information
A key differentiating factor of the Smart Choices Program is the inclusion of front-of-pack calorie information. Products that qualify for the Smart Choices Program symbol also will display calorie information on the front of the package, which clearly states calories per serving and number of servings per container. The goal is to help people stay within their daily calorie needs and make it easier for calorie comparisons within and across product categories which will help people avoid common trouble foods.
What are the nutrition qualifying criteria?
The coalition developed a comprehensive set of qualifying nutrition criteria derived from the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, FDA standards, reports from the Institute of Medicine and other sources of authoritative nutrition guidance. The criteria were designed to be flexible and adaptable – allowing for revisions to new public policy, dietary guidelines and emerging authoritative science.
Following is a current general summary of the qualifying criteria and rationale for specific variations. Note that changes to selected categories are possible.
To view the current summary of the full nutrition criteria for if and how a product would qualify for use of the Smart Choices Program Symbol, as well as more detail on the variations, click here. Please note, changes to selected categories are possible, so please continue to check back regularly.
- Nutrients to Limit: These are nutrients that Americans need to eat less of in their diet for better health.
- Nutrients to Encourage: These are the “nutrients of concern,” that is nutrients lacking in the diet, as identified by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
Public policy consistently recommends that people consume a nourishing diet within an appropriate daily calorie intake to achieve and maintain a healthy weight. Therefore, all products displaying the Smart Choices Program symbol will be required to display the calorie information that clearly states calories per serving and number of servings per container. The intent of the calorie information is to help people stay within their daily calorie needs and easily compare the calorie content of foods within categories (Fruit, Vegetables, Protein, and Carbs).
The Smart Choices Program includes 19 product categories that must meet the general qualifying criteria of nutrients to limit and nutrients or food groups to encourage. Each category was then evaluated to fine-tune the criteria so that it was in line with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and other sources of nutrition science and authoritative guidance.
Read more about the benefits of fruits and vegetables.
Don’t forget the carbs. Check out why carbs are still important.
According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, in some cases, small amounts of sugars added to nutrient-dense foods, such as breakfast cereals and reduced-fat milk products, may increase a person’s intake of such foods by enhancing the palatability of these products, thus improving nutrient intake without contributing excessive calories.
When considered on a meal basis:
- The World Health Organization (2003) allows for 10% of calories from “added sugars,” which based on a 2,000 calorie diet is 200 calories/day
- Based on four eating occasions per day (200 calories/4 eating occasions = 50 calories/eating occasion)
- Grams per eating occasion equate to 50 calories/4 = 12.5 g, rounded to 12 g