Beverage industry will make calories clearer for consumers

February 9, 2010
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Answering First Lady Michelle Obama’s call for industry initiatives that contribute to her “Let’s Move” campaign to fight childhood obesity, the American Beverage Association (ABA), Washington, D.C., announced beverage companies’ plans to make the calories in their products more consumer-friendly by putting the information on the front of all their packages, vending machines and fountain machines.
 
The companies will coordinate with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to implement the calorie initiative. The industry will start implementing the initiative across the country this year with completion in 2012.
 
“The beverage industry is taking the extra step of making the calories on its products more clear and useable for consumers so they can make balanced choices wherever they purchase our products,” said Susan Neely, the ABA’s president and chief executive officer. “By contributing to the First Lady’s initiative, our industry is once again leading with a meaningful program to do its part in addressing social challenges. We applaud Mrs. Obama for her common-sense, balanced approach to a tough issue like childhood obesity, which will require contributions from all segments of society to fully tackle.”
 
The beverage industry also is committing to continue reducing the beverage calories in the marketplace through innovation, smaller portion sizes and further marketing of their low-calorie beverages.
 
This new initiative will display calories more prominently on:
  • Product labels: Total calorie counts will be displayed on the front of labels for the entire container, up to and including 20-ounce products. A 12-ounce serving size will be used in displaying calories for multi-serve beverage packages (such as 2-liter bottles).
  • Vending Machines: Total calorie counts for the entire container will be displayed on the beverage selection buttons of vending machines controlled by the companies.
  • Fountain Machines: Calorie counts will be shown prominently on all fountain beverage machines.
Today, PepsiCo Inc., Purchase, N.Y., also announced its new beverage labeling plan in support of the initiative. To help consumers manage their calorie consumption, PepsiCo will list calorie content on the front of its beverage containers, vending machines and fountain equipment by the end of 2010, it said. Packages up to 20 ounces will be labeled with total calories and multi-serve containers will be labeled with calories-per-serving based on 12-ounce servings.
 
The industry will coordinate with the FDA on its new calorie-labeling initiative to ensure that the information on the front and back of a package is consistent, the ABA says. Also, the industry supports the FDA evaluating serving sizes for the entire food and beverage industry as part of their current review of food labels.
 
The beverage industry is going to voluntarily explore other fact-based labeling on its packages, such as the feasibility of expanding the current information for percent of daily value to include other nutrients and also put this information on the front of labels where relevant.
 
“Our companies are committed to fact-based labeling as well as seeking ways to make calories and other nutrition information more clear and accessible to consumers, particularly at the point of purchase,” Neely said. “The more easy-to-use information we give consumers, the better they’ll be able to choose the refreshing beverage that best meets their tastes and needs.”

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