As We See It

[What's in the box?]

If Nevada and other states have their way, you’ll know immediately what you’re eating

The FDA may soon start putting nutritional info on the front of products.
Photo: Russel A. Daniels/AP

Froot Loops are 41 percent sugar by weight, so it was surprising to see the cereal—along with Cocoa Puffs, Frosted Flakes and something called Keebler Cookie Crunch—boxed with the green “Smart Choices” stamp, indicating it was just that: a smart dietary choice (at least according to the Smart Choices panel, which was backed by massive food manufacturers).

Other Smart Choices: Kid Cuisine Magical Cheese Stuffed Crust Cheese Pizza, “Berry Wave” Fruit Roll-Ups and Hellmann’s mayonnaise.

So, yes, the Smart Choices program was halted in 2009, after the FDA and others questioned whether the foods being stamped “Smart Choices” really earned the title. For years now, advocates and consumer groups have called for “front of package” nutritional information clearly outlining what’s in the food we eat. After some controversial attempts, like the Smart Choices program, the FDA announced it was considering adopting a uniform labeling program—a government response to failed private efforts.

Late last month, Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto joined 11 states urging the FDA to institute a food label standard that would lay nutritional information bare: the good and the bad of what we eat, fully disclosed on the front of the package. In their call for reform, Masto and other attorneys general asked that food labels be transparent, unbiased, understandable and helpful. A standardized and fair food labeling program would, Masto said in a release, “help people become aware of the nutritional value of food and assist them to choose wisely.”

As if the “Froot” in Froot Loops didn’t say it all.


Abigail Goldman

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