Mars First Confectionery Company to Launch Front-of-Pack Nutrition Labeling Globally
Mars Consumer-friendly Nutrition Information Part of Larger Health and Nutrition Program
HACKETTSTOWN, N.J. -- Mars, Incorporated today announced it is proud to be the first confectionery company in the US to voluntarily implement Guideline Daily Amount (GDA) nutrition labeling on all of its chocolate, non-chocolate confectionery and other food products. All packages will be redesigned to feature new graphics on the front and back of packages, which contain consumer-friendly, clear and easy to understand nutrition information that will help consumers make informed choices at the point of purchase. This announcement is part of a global initiative Mars is undertaking around the world.
“Our redesigned labels are the latest examples of Mars’ commitment to health and nutrition. By providing clear, concise and understandable information to consumers about what’s inside all of our products, we will help them to make informed decisions about the foods they eat,” said Bob Gamgort, president of Mars North America. “We make every effort to go beyond what is expected of a global food company.”
The new label, referred to as “What’s Inside,” is designed to help consumers quickly and easily locate key nutrition information. The new labels will begin appearing in December and are designed to help consumers make informed choices about their diet. They will be on Mars US chocolate, non-chocolate confectionery and other food products by the end of 2010. This voluntary initiative is part of a global effort of Mars to lead the food industry in creating a healthier environment.
The “What’s Inside” label adopts the GDA graphics that have initially appeared in Europe. GDAs feature the calorie totals in large type on the front of the products and highlight more detailed information in an easier-to-read box on the back of the product, including calories, fat, sugar and sodium. Mars conducted market research earlier this year and found this style and design to be the clear favorite among consumers,contributing to the best information retention rates. The new GDA format forms part of a global commitment to health and nutrition that includes providing clear and transparent information to consumers and bold, innovative product development efforts.
Mars has also launched a new educational web site, http://www.marshealthyliving.com, which provides additional nutrition information about Mars products. Over the coming months, MarsHealthyLiving.com will debut tools to calculate caloric intake and tips for weight management and making healthy lifestyle choices, as well as newsletters and expert advice on healthy living.
“Many Americans struggle to make smart decisions when it concerns their diet; it often is difficult to eat thoughtfully and carefully. The more information consumers get, the easier it will be for them to make good choices. I think the Mars program is a wonderful first step in the direction of better labels, more information, and better decisions,” said Arthur Frank, M.D., medical director, George Washington University Weight Management Program, Washington, D.C.
The nutrition education initiative is the most recent demonstration of Mars’ deep commitment to and leadership in health and nutrition. Other initiatives include:
-- FDA Whole Grain Health Claim. On May 6, 2008, the FDA announced it was
extending the whole grain health claim to include brown rice. The FDA
approval was initiated by a variety of organizations and companies,
including the USA Rice Federation and Mars Food, which manufactures
UNCLE BEN’S(R) and Seeds of Change(R) food products. While this is
not a completely new claim, this is the first time the FDA has
explicitly extended an existing health claim to include whole grain
brown rice. Brown rice has always been a whole grain, but was
previously excluded under the original whole grain health claim because
it did not meet the required minimum level of fiber. The health claim
now supports the single ingredient ’whole grains,’ regardless
of fiber content.
-- Establishing strict guidelines for marketing to children. In February
2007, Mars was the first company to globally announce that we would not
direct marketing of our snackfoods to children under 12 years of age.
Mars has also joined other major food companies in signing the US
Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative and the
European Food Pledge to make formal public commitments regarding
responsible advertising to children.
-- Improving the nutritional quality of snackfoods offered in schools. In
September 2006, Mars partnered with the Alliance for a Healthier
Generation (AHG) to offer healthier snack choices in schools to promote
balanced eating by children during the school day. Created by The
Clinton Foundation, the American Heart Association and the Robert Wood
Johnson Foundation, the AHG has set specific guidelines for competitive
foods offered in schools. Mars was one of the first five initial food
companies to commit to this important school initiative, and the only
company to develop an entirely new line of snackfoods that meet the
stringent school nutrition standards. These Generation Max(TM) Snacks
are offered to schools across the country today.
-- Encouraging moderation through portion control. In ensuring the consumer
has options to control their portions, Mars offers a range of sizes from
miniatures, Fun Size(R) (which Mars originally created), regular single
size, and multiple piece larger packages. We are in the process of
modifying the King Size format to provide the option of sharing or
saving half for later by dividing the bar into multiple portions.
-- Maintaining US standards for real chocolate. In September 2007, Mars
Snackfood US broke ranks with other major manufacturers and announced
support of the current US Standard of Identity for chocolate, which does
not allow cocoa butter substitutes to be used in chocolate.
-- Leading global research into cocoa. Decades of Mars research has led to
major innovations in the areas of health via cocoa flavanols;
environmental, social and economic aspects via sustainable cocoa farming
programs; and the historic and cultural importance of cocoa via the
Historic Division of Mars, Incorporated and American Heritage Chocolate.
-- Supporting pilot programs designed to improve health and nutrition
curriculum. Mars has supported the Namaste Charter School in Chicago,
Illinois since 2005. The school has a unique curriculum in which
nutrition and physical activity are incorporated in classes throughout
the day. Mars provided a grant to enable the school to develop and put
their curriculum online to address the many inquiries they receive to
help other schools accomplish the same thing. Mars also recently
awarded 20 grants to teachers across the country who will implement
their plans to incorporate health and wellness into their classrooms.
-- Encouraging health and fitness among employees. Mars has continually
enhanced its Associate (employee) Wellness program with gyms in our
facilities, healthy cafeteria options, weight loss and smoking cessation
programs among many other benefits.
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