Consumer Alert: Grocery shopping tips at your fingertips

Special to the Idaho StatesmanMarch 27, 2014 

Public education plays an important part in creating a level playing field between business and consumer. Each month, the Better Business Bureau makes presentations to civic, community and church groups discussing what good business is all about.

March is National Nutrition Month, and the Better Business Bureau joined with other groups to support Facts Up Front, a voluntary effort that puts prominent nutrition labeling on the front of food and beverage packaging.

"Facts Up Front is a quick and easy way for people to make smart food choices," said Brittany Oberdorff, a registered dietitian with the Council of BBB and program manager for BBB's Children's Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative. Thirteen of the 17 companies that participate in CFBAI also are participating in Facts Up Front.

"Many of our participants are implementing Facts Up Front, and that's just another example of their commitment to promoting healthier foods and improving what's available in the marketplace," Oberdorff said.

BBB is sharing these simple Facts Up Front shopping tips to help you make more informed choices at the grocery store. Compare foods and build diets that have:

• More nutrients needed for good health. Look for potassium, fiber, calcium, protein, iron and vitamins A, C and D in Facts Up Front labels.

• Lower saturated fat. Choose oils for cooking and lean cuts of your favorite meats. Stick with low-fat or fat-free dairy products, and eat seafood a few times a week.

• Less sodium. Use Facts Up Front to help identify products with lower amounts of sodium. Try the reduced sodium or no-salt-added versions of your favorite foods, and use more herbs and spices in your cooking to add flavor.

• Less sugar. To satisfy your sweet tooth, eat fruits for snacks and/or dessert. Drink water when you're thirsty.

• Calories that help you meet your daily target. Use the Facts Up Front nutrition calculator to determine your daily calorie needs, and check the Facts Up Front labels to see how many calories are in a serving.

The CFBAI is a voluntary program involving many of the nation's largest food and beverage companies. CFBAI is designed to shift the mix of foods advertised to children younger than 12 to encourage healthier dietary choices and healthy lifestyles. Those companies in CFBAI are participating in the Facts Up Front program in an effort to help consumers make informed food and beverage choices. For more information on how CFBAI's participants have improved cereals, the food most frequently advertised to children, check out the latest Cereals Snapshot.

Facts Up Front labels display how many calories and how much saturated fat, sodium and sugar are in each serving. Some labels also provide information about other good nutrients, such as fiber and calcium. Facts Up Front - www.fmi.org - is a voluntary initiative led by the Grocery Manufacturers Association, which represents the nation's leading food and beverage companies, and the Food Marketing Institute, which represents more than 1,500 food wholesalers and retailers.

Robb Hicken: 947-2115

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