Sunday, September 06, 2009

10 foods approved by the new Smart Choices program

This week the New York Times wrote an article criticizing the new industry sponsored Smart Choices program which aims to help "strapped for time" consumers make fast choices by way of a front-of-the-label logo. From the Smart Choices website:
The Smart Choices Program™ was created by a diverse group of scientists, nutritionists and food industry leaders, to harmonize existing front-of-pack nutrition labeling icons, symbols and systems. The intent is to provide a single, simple message for the consumer - regardless of which brands they buy or stores they shop in. Our vision is that the Smart Choices Program will be the most widely-used front-of-pack nutrition labeling program in the U.S. across retail channels and brands.

The Smart Choices Program provides a front-of-pack symbol and calorie indicator that helps consumers make smarter choices for products in 19 categories, including: cereals, meats, fruits, vegetables, dairy and snacks.
The categories also include: snack foods and sweets, desserts, water (plain and carbonated), and fats, oils and spreads.

Here are 10 foods approved by the labeling scheme:

10. Breyers Smooth & Dreamy Fat Free Ice Cream (Chocolate Fudge Brownie)- Unilever

9. Frosted Flakes Cereal (Original)- Kellogg

8. Cocoa Puffs Cereal- General Mills

7. Keebler Cookie Crunch (Original)- Kellogg

6. Country Crock (Churn Style)- Unilever

5. BAGEL-FULS Bagel with Cherry Filling & Cream Cheese (Cherry & Cream Cheese) -Kraft Foods

4. Healthy Choice French Bread Pizza (Simple Selections Pepperoni French Bread Pizza)- Conagra

3. Kid Cuisine- (All Star Chicken Nuggets, Campfire Hotdog, Carnival Corn Dog, Constructor Cheeseburger, Magical Cheese Stuffed Crust Cheese Pizza, BBQ Shake - Ups)- Conagra

2. Lunchables- Fun Pack (Chicken Dunks, Turkey and Cheddar Sub, Cheese Pizza)- Kraft

1. Betty Crocker Fruit Roll-Ups Crazy Pix (Cool Chix® Berry Wave)- General Mills


Anonymous said...

Wow, I sure hope this a joke! Frosted Flakes and Cocoa Puffs are a smart choice? Way to lead America further down the road to obesity and ill health!

yarnslinger said...

hahahahahaha...this is a joke, right? Frosted Flakes and Cocoa Puffs??? Why don't they just slap that label on a bag of white sugar and a bottle of high fructose corn syrup and be done with it?
The fact that the government is endorsing packaged, processed foods as healthy choices is scary!

Anonymous said...
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Unknown said...

are you kidding? Those are "healthy" foods? give me a break

Kate M said...

I agree. Thanks for pointing out just how ridiculous this "standards" are. They are addressing legitimate needs (multiple manufacturer-specific "smart labels" and confusing nutrition information) however this is NOT the solution.

Hope you get a chance to take a look at my blog post on the topic, as well.

Anonymous said...

I'm probably missing something here (I usually do) but my understanding is that by law either the USDA AMS or FDA CFSAN must approve all front of package labeling as well as the specific nutrition label. Hence, rightly or wrongly, this is this not a federally-approved nutrition program?

Pollan's "nutritionism" in evidence?

Colleen said...

To address the last anonymous concern, this is from the New York Times' article on the subject:

The Food and Drug Administration and the Department of Agriculture have also weighed in, sending the program’s managers a letter on Aug. 19 saying they intended to monitor its effect on the food choices of consumers.

The letter said the agencies would be concerned if the Smart Choices label “had the effect of encouraging consumers to choose highly processed foods and refined grains instead of fruits, vegetables and whole grains.”

They have a say about what goes on packaging, but really only after the fact.

Anonymous said...

Although I've only scanned this, the FDA Food Labeling Guide at looks fairly proscriptive as to what can and can't go on a label. Because of the costs involved in producing and advertising labels, I assume that companies would get some kind of reading from the FDA on new campaigns such as this before investing the money. And I'd expect the standard CYA response from any agency when queried is that "we will be watching".

Some states appear to have label requirement programs as well, such as Utah's
Food Label Review Program

Katelyn Mack said...

FYI. It's not like each food company doesn't have their own "smart" system for providing consumers with "healthy" choices already. This is an attempt to reign them in and standardize how these foods are being labeled. I think the system fails on many levels. Our standards should be higher. Much higher.