In response to the U.S. Food & Drug Administration's (FDA) call for clearer nutrition communications on smaller packages, Kraft Foods Inc. is launching improved nutrition labels that it claims will make it easier for consumers to choose the portion size of the foods they eat. The new labels, which will appear on Kraft's snack and beverage products that contain two to four servings, will provide nutrition information for the contents of the entire package. In addition, the total number of servings will be stated on the front of the package.
"We encourage manufacturers to provide the most accurate and useful nutrition information to consumers by taking advantage of the flexibility in current regulations on serving sizes and label food packages as containing a single serving if the entire contents of the package can reasonably be consumed at a single-eating occasion," said Dr. Laura Tarantino, director of FDA's Office of Food Additive Safety, Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition in a March 12, 2004, letter to food manufacturers.
Kraft believes it is the first major food manufacturer to adopt this labeling policy following FDA's request. Up until now, the "Nutrition Facts" panels on smaller, multi-serving packages provided nutrition information only on a per-serving basis and not for the entire package.
"With Kraft 'doing the math' for them, people can instantly see just what they'll be consuming if they choose to eat the entire contents of a package," said Lance Friedmann, Kraft's senior vice president, Global Health and Wellness. "Just as consumers have asked, this puts the choice of portion size in their hands and gives them the information they need to make sure it's an informed choice."
These improved labels will appear on Kraft's snack and beverage products that contain two to four servings. If the package is typically consumed by one person at one time, nutrition information will be provided for the entire package. If use of the product is more mixed -- sometimes consumed by one person, but usually by more than one person -- nutrition information will be provided on both a per-serving basis and for the entire package. The front of the package will also state how many servings the package contains. The new labels complement other recent efforts by Kraft to offer a broad range of portion-size choices to meet consumers' varied nutritional needs, including snacks in small packages like its new Nabisco 100 Calorie Packs, Kraft Natural Cheese Sticks, Cracker Barrel Cheese Sticks and Planters nuts.
The first Kraft product to carry the new label is Ritz Chips "Big Bag." Ritz Chips are an oven-toasted snack with about half the fat of regular fried potato chips. The label on the Big Bag lists the nutrition information -- including calories, fat, cholesterol and sodium -- for both a single serving and the whole bag and the total number of servings is stated on the front of the package.
Some of the other small-size snack and beverage products that will carry the new label include Planters Big Bag packages, Nabisco cookies and crackers in Go-Paks! and Big Bag packages, and ready-to-drink beverages such as Capri Sun Refreshers.
Outside the U.S., where regulations differ, selected smaller size packages will include enhanced information, including the total number of calories and advice that the package should be consumed on more than one occasion.
Kraft is continuing to work with industry organizations to conduct research on the Nutrition Facts panel. The company has pledged to continue supporting further improvements to nutrition labels that may result from new consumer research or federal regulations.
The new labeling approach is one step that Kraft is taking as part of a broad-based health and wellness initiative first announced in 2003. Other components include improving the nutrition profile of Kraft's portfolio, adjusting its marketing practices, advocating for constructive public policy changes and providing consumers with more information to help them make informed food and activity choices.