Will consumers soon be able to face the facts about the amount of sugar, salt and fat in their food?

Two major food industry groups have announced general plans to provide “straightforward nutrition information” on the front of grocery products, starting early next year. In a news release, the Grocery Manufacturers Association and the Food Marketing Institute promised to give consumers “access to more information about their food than ever before.”

Still, details of the program remain sketchy, prompting speculation that the industry effort is intended to head off potentially tougher front-of-the-package guidelines for food labeling being developed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. As Bloomberg reports, the FDA has been pushing for uniform labels on food and beverage containers for the fight against obesity.

The industry groups gave little indication of what their program will provide, other than to say the labels would “add important nutrition information on calories and other nutrients to limit” and that it would be “presented in a fact-based, simple and easy-to-use format.”

Earlier this month, the Institute of Medicine, part of the National Academy of Sciences, called for front-of-the-label packaging to emphasize the potentially harmful contents of products to counter food industry marketing that instead highlights healthy ingredients.

Also, last year the food industry halted, The New York Times reports, a package-front labeling campaign called Smart Choices, amid criticism that it gave a nutritional seal of approval to such foods as sugary cereals and highly salted frozen meals.

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