The Smart Choices nutrition labeling campaign released over the summer is stupid. You know what kinds of foods are considered to be “smart choices” on this program? How about Cocoa Krispies, Froot Loops, margarine, Bagelfuls (bagels stuffed with cream cheese), Diet Lipton, etc.
In fact, I’ve got a box of “healthy” Cinnamon Toast Crunch in the cabinet that Stew picked up tonight. We love Cinnamon Toast Crunch, but it’s not healthy.The big white check mark on the front–a sign of General Mills’ Whole Grain Guarantee–leads people to believe it is by highlighting the good (low calories, low saturated fat, high calcium) and bypassing the bads… like that’s it’s Cinnamon Toast Crunch.
Come now. We are smarter than this. And apparently so is the FDA.
The New York Times reports that the FDA will release new standards of front package nutrition labeling early next year that will hopefully put an end to some of the madness.
Dr. Margaret A. Hamburg, FDA Commissioner, cites the red-yellow-green labeling system used in the UK as a potential model to follow.
My yoga teacher/nutritionist extraordinaire, Deborah, puts red and green stop and go stickers on the food in her house so her young children know what they can eat at will and what requires mom’s approval. That sounds like something American adults can handle.
The bottom line is this: Don’t fall for gimmicky marketing scams. Cinnamon Toast Crunch is still a sugary cereal whether it’s been sprinkled with extra calcium or not. PopTarts are still sugar pies even when pumped full of fiber. Use your head. Or just wait for the FDA to tell you what to do. But who really trusts the FDA anyway these days…
For more, head over to the NPR Health Blog for 6 “Healthy” Foods You Can Live Without.