• Food packages with new Nutrition Keys labels.Jessica Salmond, MU Cooperative Media Group
    Food packages with new Nutrition Keys labels.Jessica Salmond, MU Cooperative Media Group

BLUE SPRINGS, Mo. – A new food-labeling system helps consumers make better-informed decisions as they shop, says a University of Missouri Extension nutrition and health education specialist.

The “Nutrition Keys” system takes selected information from the familiar “Nutrition Facts” panel, required on most packaged food products sold in the U.S., and places it on the front of the package in a more prominent and easier-to-read format.

“This is a volunteer initiative, but nonetheless it has had unprecedented acceptance by food and beverage manufacturers and retailers,” said Glenda Kinder.

The Nutrition Keys label contains four basic pieces of information:  calories, saturated fat, sodium and sugar per serving—the things nutrition experts want us to limit in our diets.  In addition to amounts, the label also displays the percentage of the FDA recommended “daily value” of saturated fat and sodium in each serving.

If a product is a small food package, one icon may be used, representing calories in a serving. 

Packages may also include one or two “nutrients to encourage”:  potassium, fiber, protein, vitamins A, C, or D, calcium and iron.

The labeling system was announced in January by the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) and the Food Marketing Institute and has become an increasingly common sight on grocery store shelves.

According to the GMA, the new format conforms to the current U.S. Food and Drug Administration guidelines and regulations aimed at providing consumers with consistent and reliable information.

“This improved way of displaying nutrition information will provide consumers with nutrition information, simplified and easier to see,” Kinder said.

For more information from MU Extension on food and fitness, see