Some Food Packages Will Tell You How Often You Should Eat What's Inside
Mars Food said it's adding "occasional" or "everyday" to some grocery products.
By SUSANNA KIM
April 15, 2016, 4:34 PM
• 4 min read
-- U.S. customers may soon start seeing food labels that suggest how often they should be eating that package of rice.
Mars Food, a division of Mars Inc., said it's working on labels for products that should be consumed "everyday" and those that are higher in sugar, salt or fat that should be eaten on "occasion," or once a week.
The pioneering initiative could affect Uncle Ben's and Mars’ Seeds of Change organic products in the United States, which would have the "occasional" labels. The company hasn't finalized the kinds of label because it's conducting research on what would resonate most with customers.
Mars Chocolate's 29 brands, like M&Ms, Twix, Snickers and Milky Way, are separate from Mars Food and aren't affected.
"This initiative applies only to Mars Food for the time being, and we will be rolling out the labels across the global product portfolio," a Mars Food spokeswoman told ABC News, adding that the company doesn't anticipate using the “occasional” label in the United States on more than a few products.
As many U.S. consumers get pickier about their packaged foods and beverages, eschewing things like soda and artificial sweeteners, companies are pushing organic and "healthier" products. Mars said last month it started to include the labeling of genetically modified organisms (GMO) on its candy and chocolate packaging. That move was related to a law requiring companies to disclose GMOs on food products starting July 1.
Mars Food made the announcement Thursday, along with the news that it's the first major food company to adopt the World Health Organization's nutrition guidelines. Those guidelines mean the company will reduce added sugar in a limited number of products by 2018 and reduce sodium by an additional 20 percent in the next five years. The company said that's on top of the 25 percent reduction of sodium that it recently completed in its products.
The company will label “occasional” products on a rolling basis over the next five years, beginning with some products within the next year, the spokeswoman said. And in the next few months, Mars Food will provide a list on its website regarding which foods are “occasional" or “everyday," and which are being reformulated over the next five years to reduce sodium, sugar or fat.