There’s a new nutritional label starting to appear called Smart Choice, and it seems to be just a marketing gimmick, not anything that’s actually good for your health or your families health. I assume Michael Pollan is rolling his eyes right now.
A new food-labeling campaign called Smart Choices, backed by most of the nation’s largest food manufacturers, is “designed to help shoppers easily identify smarter food and beverage choices.”
The green checkmark label that is starting to show up on store shelves will appear on hundreds of packages, including — to the surprise of many nutritionists — sugar-laden cereals like Cocoa Krispies and Froot Loops.
[Click to continue reading Industry-Backed Label Calls Sugary Cereal a ‘Smart Choice’ – NYTimes.com]
The Smart Choices people have a ridiculous example as to why eating Froot Loops is good for you:
Eileen T. Kennedy, president of the Smart Choices board and the dean of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University, said the program’s criteria were based on government dietary guidelines and widely accepted nutritional standards.
Dr. Kennedy…defended the products endorsed by the program, including sweet cereals. She said Froot Loops was better than other things parents could choose for their children.
“You’re rushing around, you’re trying to think about healthy eating for your kids and you have a choice between a doughnut and a cereal,” Dr. Kennedy said, evoking a hypothetical parent in the supermarket. “So Froot Loops is a better choice.”
Yeah, think about that for a second. Why are a donut and a bowl of sugar sprayed with nutrients your only choices as a parent? Where’s the protein for your child’s brain? Where is the fresh fruit? I was lucky enough as a child that my mom made me a breakfast every day: oatmeal, eggs, whatever. Is it really that hard to spend an extra 20 minutes in the morning to feed your child?
I wonder how these corporations underwriting the Smart Choices program will spin this damning article?
Ten companies have signed up for the Smart Choices program so far, including Kellogg’s, Kraft Foods, ConAgra Foods, Unilever, General Mills, PepsiCo and Tyson Foods. Companies that participate pay up to $100,000 a year to the program, with the fee based on total sales of its products that bear the seal.
The Smart Choices organization fired one nutritionist who wanted the program to stand for something other than marketing:
Michael Jacobson, executive director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, an advocacy group, was part of a panel that helped devise the Smart Choices nutritional criteria, until he quit last September. He said the panel was dominated by members of the food industry, which skewed its decisions. “It was paid for by industry and when industry put down its foot and said this is what we’re doing, that was it, end of story,” he said
Mr. Jacobson objected to some of the panel’s nutritional decisions. The criteria allow foods to carry the Smart Choices seal if they contain added nutrients, which he said could mask shortcomings in the food.
Despite federal guidelines favoring whole grains, the criteria allow breads made with no whole grains to get the seal if they have added nutrients.
“You could start out with some sawdust, add calcium or Vitamin A and meet the criteria,” Mr. Jacobson said.
Yummy, sawdust, it’s better than a donut!