Smart Choices or Not

Wednesday, September 30, 2009 14:04
Comments Off on Smart Choices or Not

Have you seen the Smart Choices label in your local supermarkets lately?

Smart choice

The image on the right is what it looks like. This new labeling is called front-of-pack labeling which allows consumers to see the calories per serving and servings per package of the product they are purchasing. Every product that has the label must meet science-based nutrition criteria based on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, reports from the Institute of Medicine, and other sources of consensus dietary guidance. 

The Smart Choices label sounds like a great thing, right? In our overweight society a label that lets us know if a food is a good choice would make eating healthier easier, right? Well, not necessarily so. An article in LA Times shows the downfall, and the disappointment, of the Smart Choices label.

What can be the downfall of the Smart Choices label? The biggest issues it that the criteria is to lenient and critics are most disappointed with the cereal category because too many sugar cereals received the Smart Choice label including Lucky Charms and Froot Loops.

"Froot Loops? Froot Loops! I rest my case," said Marion Nestle,
nutrition professor at New York University. "No nutritionist I know
would recommend Froot Loops for breakfast."

There are numerous other issues with the labeling and many organizations such as the American Dietetic Association, American Diabetes Association, and Tufts School of Nutrition asked that their names be removed from the Smart Choices site because they are not involved with the program, but members from these organizations are on the board. 

Being a Dietitian I am a label reader so regardless of whether there is a Smart Choices label or not I always check out the Nutrition Facts and the ingredient list before I make my food choices. The Smart Choices label, in my opinion, could use some work because people are going to use this label as a crutch and will end up eating more processed foods instead of fresh, nutrient rich foods.

What are your thoughts on the Smart Choices label? 

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