According to a 16 year old analytical study conducted at North Carolina State University, it was seen that Front of Package (FOP) labeling improved nutritional content of the food.
The Front of package program was a voluntary program undertaken by food industries. The researchers analyzed the nutritional content of 44 types of food products from 1996 to 2011. All together, 21,096 products were looked at. Nutritional content before and after the FOP program implementation was compared. Food products that had taken up FOP labeling were also compared with food products that hadn’t taken up FOP.
The results showed that FOP labels had a better impact on the nutrition content of foods. It was seen that companies that had undertaken FOP labeling had improved nutrition contents in their foods and products that were generally considered unhealthy (eg: snacks) showed a much-improved response after FOP labeling. About 2.5% reduction in calories, 12.97% reduction in saturated fat, 12.62% reduction in sugar, and 3.74% reduction in sodium was seen after FOP labeling was undertaken.
According to a 2019 study published in Biomed Central, it was seen that Front of package labeling leads to a decreased risk of mortality and communicable diseases like cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, etc. It can also lead to informed food choices in consumers as the nutrition label will be visible on the front side instead of back or sideways. It also appears to be a cost-effective strategy as well as benefitting the health of consumers.
An experimental study was conducted across 12 countries in 2018 which stated that FOP labeling can help consumers distinguish between healthier and unhealthier food choices though those with lower educational levels might have difficulty understanding food labels.
Another study conducted in France and published in 2015 found in their study that younger women with higher educational levels were better at interpreting nutrition labels compared to the older population, men, participants with lower income/education, or people who had less nutrition education and rarely read labels. Hence it can be seen that FOP labeling might not be effective in certain sections of the population.
Hence it is important to note from the above studies that FOP labeling can lead to improved nutrition choices and awareness in people. The food industries are also forced to improve their food products as the labels are on the front section of the product rather than at the back or side end.