Saturday, October 24, 2009

Food Packages too?

Ah dear, I had so much hope.

A few years ago, the smart spot or smart choices label made its debut. This green circle with a check mark in it was supposed to alert consumers to healthy products.

In fact, during my internship at the local health department I did research on what items might be considered healthy enough for such a label and then reviewed the vending machine wholesale options to find foods that would meet this standardand and get that special label. The vending machines do currently have said labels. Again, WE used a particular criteria.

It is a very good concept and I continue to support it. At the same time, I understand the concern of the FDA and others in that the lable is being misused by some food companies, AND there are additional labels out there adding to the confusion and misinformation.

The label is used to denote low calorie products and often non TFA foods, but what is happening now has happened before - sugar is getting promoted, inadvertently. A snack that is only 100 calories but also only sugar, is really not GOOD for you. Empty calories are never health promoting. However, calorie and sugar moderation are very good things!

The FDA is now considering making some statement on the standards that should drive these labels and I have read that some manufacturers have recently pulled back from using the smart choices label until further guidance is offered. That makes sense.

In the meantime, do let me encourage you to visit the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, a joint effort between the AHA and the Clinton Foundation.

Here you can find specific guidelines for healthy food and beverages for yourself and your children. And as always, read the label - don't let a symbol stop you from reading the label!

Also, I have been seeing this one lately, No High Fructose Corn Syrup. That is surely a good sign. It is also a sign of progress that this is an issue at all.

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