Beverage industry makes commitment to calorie disclosure

WASHINGTON — The American Beverage Association announced that consumers across the United States soon will find new front-of-pack labels on their favorite beverages as part of an effort by America's leading nonalcoholic beverage companies to bring the Clear on Calories initiative to stores.

The beverage industry's voluntary commitment to make calories more visible and useful to consumers supports First Lady Michelle Obama's "Let's Move!" efforts, designed to help families make informed choices as part of an active, healthy lifestyle, the American Beverage Association reported. The labels denoting total calorie count will be displayed on every container that is 20 fl. oz. or smaller. The labels began appearing on some beverages last fall and now are in stores across the nation.

The initiative is supported by such beverage manufacturers as Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Dr Pepper Snapple Group, Sunny Delight Beverages, Nestle Waters North America, Cott Beverages and Honest Tea. The companies expect to have the calorie label on the front of all of their major brands and more than half of their product volume by June of this year — and on all brands and packages by early 2012 as committed.

"The new labels put calorie information at the fingertips of consumers at every point of purchase so they can choose the beverage that is right for them and their families," Susan Neely, president and CEO of the American Beverage Association, said. "By putting the calories on the front of beverages, we're making it easier for consumers to make informed choices. It's one more way that America's beverage companies are doing their part to help people achieve a healthy weight by balancing their diet and physical activity."

In related news, the Food Marketing Institute and Grocery Manufacturers Association recently announced their Nutrition Keys initiative, a voluntary front-of-pack nutrition labeling system that is part of the lobbying groups' efforts to fight the obesity epidemic in the United States.

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