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Should Front Labels Contain Full Nutritional Information Tables?

Don't Judge A Product by Its Front Label It's fair to say that shoppers browsing the aisles at the grocery store often don't take the time to pick up individual products off the shelves, flip them around and read the nutritional information listed on the back.

Instead, these individuals tend to base their purchasing decisions on the front of the packaging. This is one of the many reasons why it's so important for brands to use high-quality, professional-looking labels with crisp, easy-to-read text and vibrant colors.

The Limitations of the 'Front Label' Approach However, as we noted in a recent article, some of the claims made on brands' front-facing labels confuse or mislead shoppers. For instance, the labels on the front of Vitaminwater bottles display information about the electrolytes, minerals and vitamins contained in the drink, but you have to look at the back to learn about the product's high sugar content. Similarly, the front labels on Capri Sun pouches boast the drink's lack of artificial colors, flavors and preservatives, but the full list of ingredients is relegated to the back.

Traditionally, many companies have shied away from including full nutritional information tables on their front-facing product labels. One of the chief reasons for this is that they believe doing so will take up valuable design real estate that could compromise their ability to attract consumers' attention. However, particularly where health-focused shoppers are concerned, being upfront about what a product contains may actually have a positive effect.

Study Finds Front-of-Package Nutrition Information May Spur Healthier Choices In fact, according to a study led by the University of Surrey in the United Kingdom, front-of-package nutrition labels make it easier for health-conscious shoppers to choose their purchases wisely, without having to take the time to scrutinize back labels.

As the British Journal of Nutrition detailed, researchers believe that applying this approach across the board could have a two-pronged effect, educating customers and holding members of the food and beverage industry to a higher level of accountability.

"Front-of-package food labeling is an important tool in helping consumers to make healthier choices and to encourage the industry to provide healthier foods," noted study leader Monique Raats, director of the University of Surrey's Food, Consumer Behaviour and Health Research Centre, in a statement quoted by Science Daily.

Ultimately, whether companies decide to include full nutritional information on the front of their brands' packaging, they have a responsibility to accurately represent their products on the items' front labels.