Thursday, October 15, 2009



Well, that's what our nation's largest food manufacturers--in the case of Froot Loops, Kellogg's--would like us to believe. They're behind the new food-labeling campaign called Smart Choices. You've probably already seen products that feature a big, green checkmark on the labels. They say it's designed to help us "easily identify smarter food and beverage choices."

Would someone please tell me how a sugar-laden, artificially colored product like Froot Loops is HEALTHY??? Or Cocoa-Puffs, another "smart choice??" (Did you know that sugar makes up 41% of the Froot Loops, by weight??)

Here's what Walter C. Willett, chairman of the nutrition department of the Harvard School of Public Health had to say (this quote appeared in a September 5, 2009 article in The New York Times). "These are horrible choices." Even the FDA is wary of this new labeling program. (And the FDA usually thinks that everything big pharma and agribusinesses do is A-OK. If they don't like it, well, it must be really, really bad).

The president of the Smart Choices board, Eileen T. Kennedy (she's dean of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University--go figure) says that "the checkmark means that the food item is a better for you' product." Better that what, I ask?? A bag of pork rinds fried in lard? Well, duh, that doesn't mean it's healthy!

If the goal is to steer consumers toward healthier food choices, this program is laughable. But we know that's not what it's all about. In reality it's simply a smokescreen (and a pretty savvy marketing ploy, if you think about it) to fool the general public into buying more products made by Kellogg's, Kraft Foods, Con Agra Foods, Unilever, General Mills, PepsiCo, and Tyson Foods.

According to the same NY Times article, "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." Why did he quit? Because, he said, the panel was dominated by members of the food industry, which skewed its decisions. The criteria they chose--hold onto your hats, folks--allows foods to carry the Smart Choices seal if they contain "added nutrients."

According to the advocacy organization Credo Action, the program's "burdensome application process and its relatively high fees -- appeals to giant packaged food companies at the expense of unprocessed, unbranded foods like fruits and vegetables. USDA guidelines warn extensively about the need to avoid consumption of added sugars from breakfast cereals, yet the Smart Choices board explicitly defined the label so that sugary breakfast cereals could qualify. That's not really a sign that the label's main concern is consumers' health." Visit and sign their petition to make changes that would make this labeling meaningful.

"You could start out with some sawdust, add calcium or Vitamin A, and meet the criteria," Mr. Jacobson said.

Folks, this is just another deceptive manipulation of the public by food industry giants. These are highly processed foods that contain artificial flavors, colors, hydrogenated oils, and genetically modified ingredients.

The next time I trot through the supermarket, I'll keep a hairy eyeball out for the big green checkmark. Supposedly some excellent, unprocessed foods are in this thing, too, but I suspect they're few and far between. SO DON'T BE FOOLED BY THE BIG GREEN CHECKMARK. REMEMBER TO VOTE WITH YOUR POCKETBOOK!

Please let us know what products--good and bad--you find with the checkmark.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hey Lisa,
All I have to say is HOW STUPID DO THEY THINK WE ARE!!!!!

Remember folks choose wisely and don't be fooled by the multi-million dollar marketing scams.

Don't buy the food dyes, the sugar, and be skeptical of Big Food!

Say NO and say it loudly! Fill out the petition it takes seconds. click on the link and then the story at credo (Cocoa Puffs as health food). Ha!

Lisa, thanks for pointing out this outrageous SCAM.