“These are horrible choices,” said Walter C. Willett, chairman of the nutrition department of the Harvard School of Public Health.He said the criteria used by the Smart Choices Program were seriously flawed, allowing less healthy products, like sweet cereals and heavily salted packaged meals, to win its seal of approval. “It’s a blatant failure of this system and it makes it, I’m afraid, not credible,” Mr. Willett said.
No matter where you shop or what brands you buy - the Smart Choices Program™ provides simple, front-of-pack nutrition guidance to help you make smarter food and beverage choices. The program is designed to fit how you shop in the store and works within product categories -- from beverages to meats -- to highlight those products that meet strict nutrition criteria. Since a healthy diet starts with fresh fruits and vegetables, they automatically qualify for the program.
- “Simple, front-of-pack nutrition guidance” – I’ve said it before. A box has six sides. To really figure out what’s in a food and whether it’s something you want to feed yourself and your family, you need to look at all sides of the box. Don’t let someone else do your thinking for you.
- “This program is designed to fit how you shop.” I suppose the Smart Choices program wants to make it easier for us to just breeze down the isles without thinking. I know we are all busy. I know that grocery shopping is a chore (believe me I know). I know that many of us are taking children to the store with us and taking the time to look at packaging information means giving your little one a chance to pull things off of the shelves behind you. Still, we need to do it ourselves – not leave it up to a program that charges companies like Kellogg’s up to $100,000 a year (as per the NYT piece) to put a check mark on a box.
- “Highlight those products that meet strict nutrition criteria.” Strict - unless there is too much sugar in the Froot Loops. Then they’ll relax those standards (as per Food Politics) so they can get up to $100,000 a year from Kellogg’s.
- “Since a healthy diet starts with fresh fruits and vegetables, they automatically qualify for the program.” Yet, a look at their product search finds that no fresh fruits or vegetables are actually listed. Some frozen vegetables and some dried fruits are, but no fresh. I suppose no fresh fruit or vegetable producers are willing to pay the money to have their products labeled a “smart choice.” I can’t blame them.
The opinions expressed by MNN Bloggers and those providing comments are theirs alone, and do not reflect the opinions of MNN.com. While we have reviewed their content to make sure it complies with our Terms and Conditions, MNN is not responsible for the accuracy of any of their information.