The launch of food industry backed Smart Choices Seal, a front of package label designed to inform shoppers of more nutritious products, has been very controversial. The criteria deciding which products are “better for you” were set by a panel of representatives from companies such as Kellogg’s, Con Agra and Kraft, as well as independent scientists from health organizations and Academia.
However, something strange must have happened in those criteria-setting meetings, if the result was a seal of approval for Froot Loops and other uber-sweet products. Fruit Loops is 41% sugar by weight, contains a rainbow of artificial colorings, and some trans-fat to boot.
This is the classic story of the fox guard the hen house, or the cat watch over the cream. Public pressure, as well as media coverage that was less than friendly seem to have an effect. Change.org mounted an email campaign in which thousands of people wrote to the independents, asking that they rescind their support for the program:
Thanks to change.org activists and a lot of attention in the media and across the blogosphere, both the American Dietetic Association and the American Diabetes Association have had their names removed from the Smart Choices web site.
You might notice that Smart Choices hasn’t done much to publicize the fact that neither group endorses the new marketing ploy (let’s call it what it is shall we?). Both of the ADAs, it seems, understand that they can’t in good conscience be affiliated with any sort of labeling that calls Froot Loops healthy.
(Thank you Marion Nestle for the h/t)
What to do at the supermarket:
Smart Choices and other marketing shticks will always await consumers on the supermarket shelves. Not sure if a product is as good as it claims to be? Check the nutrition panel and the ingredient list. Still confused? Drop us a line, and we’ll try to help…
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