Posts Tagged ‘smart choices’

Not So Smart Choices

October 26, 2009

13-2Under pressure from state and federal authorities who feared that consumers were being misled, the food industry is suspending its major labeling program called “Smart Choices”. The program, which was discussed on this blog on September 13, featured a green checkmark on the boxes of foods that were deemed “healthy choices.”

Pepsico announced this week that they were cutting ties with the program, and Kellogg’s said that it would begin phasing out the packaging bearing the program’s logo on its foods which included Froot Loops and other sugary cereals.

The Smart Choices logo was met with criticism from nutritionists who felt the criteria was too lax.

The decision to suspend the program, pending revisions is a remarkable about face for an initiative that was developed by many of the country’s biggest food manufacturers, during a two year period. Isn’t it ironic that it only took 6 weeks for them to realize that this program was “not so smart” after all?

We hope that this is the first of many steps in the right direction for the American food industry.

photo: adapted from Glasshouse Images

Smart Choices?

September 13, 2009

2117900437.JPGA new food labeling program called “Smart Choices” is designed to help shoppers easily identify smarter food and beverage choices.

The green label with a large checkmark is appearing on hundreds of food items, much to the chagrin of many nutritionists.

It is no wonder that obesity and diabetes run rampant in a country where the Food and Drug Administration has deemed sugar laden Froot Loops and Cocoa Krispies healthy grains, and full fat mayonnaise and artificially sweetened Fudgesicles as “smart choices”.

Yet these foods fit within the FDA guidelines of not exceeding the very generous limits of sugar, fat and sodium per serving.

It seems to me that the real healthy choices come in nature’s own packaging. If it made it into a box, chances are pretty strong that it has been processed and refined. Call me crazy, but it would be tough to print check marks on the real “smart choices” such as fresh fruits (even the spelling of Froot has been altered in the cereal version) vegetables, lean meats and seafood. Have you ever tried to hold a live fish, let alone print a check mark on its side?

Once again, industry is preying on the poorly educated consumer, who believe that endorsement from the FDA and approval from the Smart Choices program is helping them make informed and positive choices in the food they buy.

Dr. Eileen T. Kennedy, president of the Smart Choices Board and dean of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University, defended the program in the New York Times, stating that “consumers are smart enough to deduce that if it doesn’t have a checkmark, by implication it’s not a “better for you” product.” She cited the example that given the choice between Froot Loops and a donut, the cereal is a better choice. But what about whole grains, such as oatmeal and low fat dairy, such as yoghurt instead? Aren’t they MUCH better for you products? The comparisons are relative. Two bad choices don’t make a good one.

We believe that educating the American public on the benefits of good nutrition and physical exercise is a much more noble and useful deed for our government to indulge in than this misguided labeling effort.

photo: adapted from Glasshouse Images

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