Here at Sip & Savor we've dedicated a few columns of late to the beverage industry's Clear on Calories initiative (more on that a bit later).  Today, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) of the National Academies will convene a public workshop on the very topic of front-of-package nutrition labeling.

In response to a Congressional directive, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) asked the IOM to review front-of-package nutrition ratings and symbols, resulting in creation of the IOM Committee on Examination of Front-of-Package Nutrition Rating Systems and Symbols.  The Committee is expected to issue a report sometime this year, but its charge is to focus on the "elements of the nutrition rating criteria and science underlying the front-of-package system." This is all part of a review and assessment of the current systems in use and whether or not there is a need for a uniform system. Today's workshop will focus on both domestic and international nutrition rating systems and symbols, as well as any concerns about them, and will include a variety of presenters from regulatory agencies, food manufacturers, academia and public health organizations.

Now how does this bring us back to where we started today's blog - with our industry's Clear on Calories initiative? We hope that, as the Committee looks at how industry employs innovative initiatives, they will look at how America’s leading beverage companies are taking the extra step of making the calories on their products more clear and useable for consumers so they can make balanced choices wherever they purchase our products.  Our approach provides consumers with fact-based information, with a focus on calorie content - at their fingertips.  And that information will be available on our containers, vending machines and fountain equipment - all within two years.

This initiative is yet another way that the beverage industry is stepping up to be part of the solution to obesity.  The more easy-to-use information we give consumers, the better they'll be able to choose the refreshing beverage that best meets their tastes and needs.