I just received the following e-mail from the Food Democracy Now Team (www.fooddemocracynow.org) and felt impelled to help spread the word:
Recently, an alliance of over a dozen giant food conglomerates and some industry “experts” came up with a new nutrition labeling program meant to help consumers make “smarter food and beverage choices.”1 You might be surprised what they define as a “Smart Choice”: products like Froot Loops®, Keebler Cookie Crunch® and Lucky Charms®.
Are they serious? In an age when childhood obesity and type II diabetes has become an epidemic, labeling sugar cereals as smart choices is unacceptable. Please join us in telling the FDA and USDA to investigate the Smart Choices® Program and put an end to deceptive labeling.
The new Smart Choices® label, a large, bright green checkmark, is starting to appear on packages of processed food across the country thanks to the help of major corporations like ConAgra, General Mills, Kellogg’s, Kraft, PepsiCo, Tyson Foods and Unilever.2 For only $100,000, a company can join the Smart Choices® program3 and “recommend” products that contain as much as 44% sugar to your children.
This new label is a sign of everything that is wrong with food industry driven labeling programs.
According to Michael Jacobson, the executive director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, the criteria for the new “smarter food” label is so low that: “You could start out with some sawdust, add calcium or Vitamin A and meet the criteria.” Jacobson, who was on the original panel of experts that worked to create the nutritional standards for the Smart Choices® program, resigned last September in disgust because the results were so far in favor of the industry.
Thankfully, the FDA and USDA have taken notice. The agencies sent a joint letter saying they would “be concerned if any FOP (front of package) labeling systems…had the effect of encouraging consumers to choose highly processed foods…” The letter is a good start, but The FDA and USDA need to do more. The Smart Choices program will encourage bad food choices if it’s allowed to proceed. And the FDA and USDA have the ability to stop it.
Consider signing this petition now and telling the FDA and the USDA that Froot Loops® is NOT a Smart Choice for our children.
To follow the political ins and outs of food policies and specifically the politics of the Smart Choices campaign, I always check in with Marion Nestle’s excellent blog, Food Politics.