The Smart Choices front-of-package nutrition labeling program: Rationale and development of the nutrition criteria

Joanne R. Lupton, Douglas A. Balentine, Richard M. Black, Regina Hildwine, Barbara J. Ivens, Eileen T. Kennedy, Patricia T. Packard, Bradley R. Sperber, Daniel Steffen, Mary Story

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

52 Scopus citations


The goal of the Smart Choices Program (SCP) is to provide a simple front-of-the-package icon system to direct consumers to smarter food choices in the supermarket, which will eventually lead to more balanced diets and to more beneficial foods as food manufacturers renovate products to meet the nutrition criteria for carrying the icon. The SCP was developed by a coalition of scientists and nutrition educators, experts with experience with dietary guidelines, public health organizations, and food manufacturers in response to consumer confusion over multiple front-of-the-package systems based on different criteria. Representatives from different government organizations acted as observers. The process of developing the program was facilitated by the nonprofit Keystone Center, an organization that develops consensus solutions to complex health and social policy changes. The nutrition criteria for receiving the SCP icon are specific for product category by indicating "smarter" products within that category. A calorie indicator noting calories per serving and servings per package accompanies the SCP icon to remind consumers that calories do count, even for smarter food choices. For a product to qualify, it first has to be below the threshold for "nutrients to limit" and then (in most cases) it must be above the threshold for one or more nutrients or food groups to encourage. The criteria are based on the 2005 Dietary Guidelines and other consensus science and are transparent and available on the SCP website. This article describes the nutrition criteria and rationales for their selection.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1078S-1089S
JournalAmerican Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2010


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