Food manufacturers abandon Smart Choices logo

Posted by Daniel Palmer on 2nd November 2009

All eight US food manufacturers participating in the Smart Choices Program labelling scheme have agreed to drop the logo from their products amid claims the label could mislead consumers.

The eight companies – ConAgra Foods, General Mills, Kellogg, Kraft Foods, PepsiCo, Riviana Foods, Sun-Maid and Unilever – have agreed to a request from Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal to remove the logo from their products – at least until investigations being conducted by Blumenthal and the US Food and Drug Administration are complete.

“Food manufacturers rightly recognised our serious concerns about a programme that promotes fat-saturated mayonnaise and sugar-laden cereals as smart. Smart Choices sensibly suspended its programmes in the face of my investigation and plans by the FDA to establish industry standards for front-of-package labelling,” Blumenthal said. “Dropping the Smart Choices logo was a smart choice – and a sweet step.”

The Smart Choices symbol was established as part of the food industry’s response to rising obesity in the US and was claimed to be able to guide consumers to make healthier food choices.

However, Blumenthal’s investigation has claimed that the logo has been used on products that are high in fat and sugar including mayonnaise, ice cream and sugary processed cereals.

“My investigation into Smart Choices, now supported by the FDA, continues to seek any scientific research or evidence behind a programme that promotes mayonnaise, sugar-loaded cereal and ice cream as Smart Choices,” Blumenthal said.

Blumenthal is seeking information on the consumer research and selection criteria used in the Smart Choices programme. He is also calling for details of the processes and fees in involved in administering the programme and payments or developmental role played by food manufacturers to be disclosed.

“Our initiative should send a message to other food manufacturers that labelling must be completely truthful and accurate without hype or spin, especially when appealing to children,” Blumenthal emphasised.

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