When the concept behind the "Smart Choice" food labels was introduced, it sounded like a good idea. The goal was to provide easy to digest nutritional information on the front of food packages and the products bearing the label were to meet health guidelines — low calorie count, low in sugar. But when the green check mark made its debut this August, it seemed rather fishy that the cereal Fruit Loops, which lists sugar as its first ingredient, could score the "Smart Choice" badge of approval.
The FDA is cracking down on the use of the label and many large food corporations, like Pepsi-Co and Kellogg's, are suspending their use of the symbol while the FDA creates guidelines for nutritional labels used on the front of food packages. Although no time line was given, the FDA has plans to design a standardized food labeling system, to replace the many voluntary nutritional labels that have been created by the food industry, supermarkets, and nutritionists. The FDA will be working with food manufacturers as well as nutritionists to create a label that helps shoppers select healthy foods. My suggestion: don't rely on the front or the back, read the ingredients and the nutritional panel. Or shop for whole foods and forgo products with labels entirely.