Shoppers look for some sign that the food they buy is good for them and so industry provides the labels — even if the combination of the label and the food makes no sense. For instance, Fruit Loops and Cocoa Krispies are considered a “smart choice” when in comes to nutrition, at least according to the latest in labeling programs organized by the food manufacturers.
The New York Times’ William Neuman reviews the strange recommendations appearing in food stores now under the Smart Choices labeling initiative. Some of the largest food companies in the country have signed up with the private Smart Choices program, including Kraft, ConAgra and Tyson. They pay $100,000 a year, and in return some of their food gets a green “Smart Choices” label that take the place of nutritional labels that individual companies had begun using. The companies agree to discontinue their own labeling system in favor of the “Smart Choices” label (which, by the way, contain little real information about the nutritional content of the food). Fruit Loops qualify (as do the other foods in the picture above).
“These are horrible choices,” said Walter C. Willett, chairman of the nutrition department of the Harvard School of Public Health. “It’s a blatant failure of this system and it makes it, I’m afraid, not credible,” Mr. Willett said. Meanwhile, the Food and Drug Administration and the Department of Agriculture have sent a letter to the manufacturers saying they intend to monitor the program’s effects on consumers.