Sunday, September 6, 2009

Update on Smart Choices Food Labeling

Well, I suppose the only update is that the following companies have gotten on board: Kellogg’s, Kraft Foods, ConAgra Foods, Unilever, General Mills, PepsiCo and Tyson Foods.

Otherwise, it's really just added confusion. The NY Times reports:

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. Dr. Kennedy and Dr. Clark, who were both on the panel, said industry members had not controlled the results.

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.

Nutritionists questioned other foods given the Smart Choices label. The program gives the seal to both regular and light mayonnaise, which could lead consumers to think they are both equally healthy. It also allows frozen meals and packaged sandwiches to have up to 600 milligrams of sodium, a quarter of the recommended daily maximum intake.

“The object of this is to make highly processed foods appear as healthful as unprocessed foods, which they are not,” said Marion Nestle, a nutrition professor at New York University.

As always, I agree with Marion Nestle and return to good ol' MP's advice that real, whole foods typically don't come with nutrition labels.

1 comment:

Niko said...

So I see the point in Smart Lableling but seriously who are these big companies kidding anyway...If you have to worry about advertising healthy then more than likely your just not..Whats next a smart