The non-profit Keystone Center on Oct. 27 unveiled a much anticipated, voluntary front-of-pack nutrition labeling system called Smart Choices. Immediately, a number of leading packaged foods companies committed to using it.
The Smart Choices program includes a symbol that identifies more nutritious choices within product categories and provides calorie information. But the real key is moving calories per serving and servings per container to the front of food and beverage package. The program was disclosed at the American Dietetic Assn.’s annual Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo.
The Smart Choices green check logo strongly resembles the green “Smart choices made easy” symbol used by PepsiCo on its healthier products. Unilever USA uses a similar, though differently colored, one. General Mills and Coca-Cola immediately said they are planning to place the new symbol on the front of all U.S. packages next year. Other companies that have indicated they are likely to follow suit include ConAgra Foods, Kellogg Co., Kraft Foods, PepsiCo, Unilever and Wal-Mart Stores Inc.
The label, meant to help consumers make informed shopping purchases and enhance public health, was developed by Keystone Center’s Food and Nutrition Roundtable, which included food and beverage companies and some retailers. To qualify for the symbol, products cannot exceed standards for certain “nutrients to limit” – such as total fat, saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, added sugars and sodium. For most categories, products also must provide “nutrients to encourage” – nutrients calcium, potassium, fiber, magnesium, vitamins A, C and E and food groups fruits, vegetables, whole grains and fat-free or low-fat dairy.
The criteria were based in part on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, FDA standards and reports from the Institute of Medicine. See more at www.smartchoicesprogram.com.