Beware the Green Checkmark: A New Food Rant

The newest food labeling campaign (which by the way is backed by most of the largest food manufacturers) is called Smart Choices.  What do you think of when you read “Smart Choices”?  Healthy alternatives? Organic?  Low sugar?  No chemicals?  Well, let me tell you…

While the program is based on US government’s national dietary guidelines, it appears to have many shortcomings.  For example, artificially added nutrients count as healthy choices which means that a cereal like Froot Loops qualifies for the Smart Choices label because it can be said that Froot Loops are a better choice than a donut for breakfast.  Froot Loops also meets the industry’s criteria for essential vitamins and minerals (even though they are artificially added nutrients) and fiber.  They also do not exceed the recommended amounts of fat, sodium, and sugar.  That said, Froot Loops are 41% sugar by weight… that is more than most cookies.

Are you kidding me???

So as Michael Jacobsen of director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest stated, “You could start out with some sawdust, add calcium or Vitamin A and meet the criteria,”

And there is no unbiased 3rd party deciding who gets to use the Smart Choices labeling.  The companies that participate in the program pay up to $100,000 per year to the program, based on the sales of the items that carry the label.  These same companies also have members on the Smart Choices board.

So, now you know.  You have some information.  Do some more research and make your own intelligent choices.  I know for myself, if I can identify an ingredient in nature, then it’s more likely a smarter choice.  When was the last time you saw a canola plant?  But that’s another blog for another day.

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