Industry debuts new U.S. food labels, critics pan

DeLauro, the former chair of a subcommittee that sets FDA funding, was a fierce critic of “Smart Choices” a controversial industry-led nutrition labeling program.

In October 2009, FDA warned companies that the agency was investigating if nutrition claims on the front of packages were misleading and called out the “Smart Choices” labels. Officials said they were developing a proposal for those labels and exploring if consumers would benefit from a single symbol to give a quick, accurate idea of nutritional content.

Food makers like Kellogg Co, which sells Froot Loops and Frosted Flakes breakfast cereals, scrapped “Smart Choices” labeling shortly after the FDA criticism.

The Institute of Medicine and the FDA have been working to develop reports and potential guidelines for what type of nutrition information should be permitted and required on the front of food packages, said Kelly Brownell, Director of the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale University.

“There is much at stake,” said Brownell. “Millions of people see thousands of products each day and deserve a labeling system that helps them understand nutrition information rather than misleads them.”

Michael Jacobson, executive director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a nonprofit consumer group, said: “It’s unfortunate the industry wouldn’t adopt a more effective system or simply wait until the (FDA) developed a system that would be as useful to consumers as possible.”


By Lisa Baertlein


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