Smart Choices Program Voluntarily Suspended
The decision follows this week's announcement from the Food and Drug Administration that it is analyzing nutritional information systems developed by food manufacturers to determine if they are in line with the FDA's regulatory criteria, and that it intends to develop standardized criteria for front-of-package (FOP) and shelf labeling.
The FDA indicated that it wanted to work with food retailers and manufacturers, nutrition and design experts and the Institute of Medicine in formulating FOP nutrition labeling standards. In a press conference, FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg specifically questioned the nutritional value of some of the foods bearing the Smart Choices logo on their labels.
This month, prior to the FDA's announcement, Connecticut's attorney general, Richard Blumenthal announced that he was investigating Smart Choices, and that attorneys general of other states had expressed interest in doing the same.
The Smart Choice program's participants include many of the nation's leading food manufacturers, including Kraft Foods, Kellogg and General Mills.
In announcing the Smart Choices suspension, Mike Hughes, the program's chair and president of science and public policy at the Keystone Center, said the program's participants "welcome the FDA's interest in developing uniform front-of-package and shelf-labeling criteria."
Hughes said that the Smart Choices program "shares the exact goal" described by Commissioner Hamburg of developing a common approach to nutrition-related FOP that "all Americans can trust and use to build better diets and improve their health."
He added that "we continue to believe the Smart Choices program is an important step in the right direction."--Karlene Lukovitz