5 Front of Package Labels Defined So You Are Not Confused When You Shop

February 22, 2016

We walk you through labeling schemes that can currently be seen on store shelves.

Do you shop in different food stores and see a variety of front of package (FOP) labeling? It can certainly get confusing, so here are the labeling schemes that can currently be seen on store shelves.

Facts Up Front 
Facts Up Front shows calories, saturated fats, sodium and total sugars per serving, and highlights two nutrients. i.e. fiber, vitamins, calcium and other nutrients that are considered essential for a healthy diet. The labeling is voluntary and features what you can find on the nutrition facts panel, but instead of having to turn over the package you can see the key points up front.

Guiding Stars 
The Guiding Stars algorithm determines a food's healthfulness based on positive and negative attributes and awards zero, one, two or three stars. More specifically, the Guiding Stars system credits all edible foods based on the presence of vitamins, minerals, dietary fiber and whole grains, and debits for the presence of trans fat, saturated fats, cholesterol, added sugars, and added sodium. Foods are then awarded zero, one, two or three stars - one star means good nutritional value; two stars, better nutritional value; and three stars, the best nutritional value.

The NuVal algorithm weighs positive and negative nutrients and presents a score between one and 100. It considers 30-plus nutrients including vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants; sugar, salt, trans fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol. The system also incorporates measures for the quality of protein, fat, and carbohydrates, as well as calories and omega-3 fats. The NuVal System also takes into account how these nutrients influence health based on broadly accepted, published scientific literature. The algorithm was developed by a team of leading nutrition, public health, and medical experts. 

Walmart Great for You  
The label appears on the retailer’s own Great Value and Marketside food items as well as on signs around fresh fruits and vegetable displays. Single ingredient foods, i.e. 100% fruit juice, unflavored low fat or non fat milk or yogurt, 100% whole grain product or a product (i.e. packaged food) that contains more than 50% whole grains or provides eight grams whole grains and three grams fiber, lean protein foods and more will receive the label. The products must also have no more than 25% of calories from added sugars, less than 20% of total calories from saturated fats, have zero grams trans fats, no partially hydrogenated oils on ingredient lists, and more to make the “Great for You” cut.

Traffic Light 
If you are traveling overseas you might see this symbol. It’s a rating system, developed by the Food Standards Agency in the UK, and assigns a red, amber or green background to the saturated-fat, sugar and salt categories on food labels. A food high in sugar but low in fat would be marked red for sugar and green for fat, giving shoppers the ability to make their decision based on their preferences, or by comparing foods side by side.

SupermarketGuru suggests you approach products with front of package labeling as you would approach any product on your store’s shelf; remember the elements that you personally know are important to your diet, make sure you read the ingredient list- and when in doubt, seek out the help of an in store dietitian.