NSF International and the American Society for Nutrition have announced their joint roles in administering a new nutritional front-of-package labeling initiative called the Smart Choices Program, which will provide manufacturers and retailers with a reliable front-of-pack icon and calorie information to help consumers recognize smarter food and beverage products.

The goal of the program is to bring consistency and clarity to the U.S. marketplace, and to clear up consumer confusion. NSF and ASN will act as program administrators, providing both scientific and technical expertise to a board of directors made up of non-profit, scientific and industry representatives.

To qualify for the Smart Choices Program, all products must meet standards for specific “nutrients to limit” (total fat, saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, added sugars and sodium), and, for most categories, products also must meet criteria for positive attributes – “nutrients to encourage” (calcium, potassium, fiber, magnesium, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E) or “food groups to encourage” (fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat and fat-free dairy). Specific qualifying criteria have been developed for 19 product categories.

Companies that already have signed up for the program include ConAgra Foods, General Mills, Kellogg Co., Kraft Foods, PepsiCo, SunMaid and Unilever.

For more information, visit www.nutrition.org or www.nutrition.org, or send an e-mail.