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Coke Puts Calories Front and Center

Kenneth Hein

Consumers will soon have a hard time missing how many calories are in their Coca-Cola. The beverage giant announced today that it would place calorie information on the front of nearly all of its products' packaging including Sprite, Powerade and Full Throttle.

The global initiative is designed to help consumers make a more informed decision, per the company. "Now more than ever, people expect facts about the products they consume to be both readily available and visible," Coke Chairman and CEO Muhtar Kent said in a statement. "This global commitment is about making it easier for consumers to quickly see the calorie information for our beverages."

This "front-of-pack" commitment will be in all markets by the end of 2011. The new labeling is currently being rolled out in the United States. It has already appeared in Europe, Mexico and Australia.

Labels may also include daily guidance indicators that illustrate how nutrients fit in dietary guidelines established by local regulations. The only products that will not carry this information are unsweetened/unflavored waters like Dasani, returnable bottles and fountain drinks.

Placing an emphasis on educating consumers about product ingredients is important, said Robyn Flipse, a registered dietician who has consulted for Coca-Cola and other food and beverage companies. "Most of the discussions coming down the pike like banning ingredients [such as] high-fructose corn syrup and implementing a soda tax do not go to the heart of what consumers need, which is education," Flipse said. "[The labels] provide sound information that helps them make better choices and are more likely to change behavior."