MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. - Reflecting its support of a national initiative designed to promote public health, General Mills soon will feature a new nutrition labeling system on its packaging.
Smart Choices, launching today, is the first-ever uniform front-of-package nutrition labeling program. Approximately 500 products from eight companies (General Mills, ConAgra Foods, PepsiCo, Kraft Foods, Sun-Maid, Unilever – U.S., Tyson and Kellogg Company – U.S.) have qualified for the Smart Choices’ green check mark in the program’s 19 categories. The number of products is expected to more than double by next spring.
Dozens of General Mills products will carry the green check mark, including Yoplait Light yogurts, Green Giant frozen vegetables, most Progresso lower-sodium soups and virtually all Big G cereals, including all kid cereals. The company plans to phase in the use of Smart Choices to coincide with other packaging changes.
General Mills supports the Smart Choices program because it is a single, credible system that will help eliminate consumer confusion, predicts Susan Crockett, RD, Vice President of the General Mills Bell Institute of Health and Nutrition. A member of the Smart Choices group that developed the new labeling, Crockett adds, “We believe this will help make it easier for consumers to compare calories and make healthy food choices through front-of-packaging information.”
Smart Choices’ green check mark reflects standards on nutrients to limit (such as fats, cholesterol, sugar and sodium) and – for most categories -- nutrients to encourage (including calcium, potassium, fiber, magnesium and vitamins).
The standards were derived from the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, reports from the Institute of Medicine and other sources of authoritative nutrition guidance.
“The coalition worked very hard to develop nutrition criteria that met the highest standards, and a symbol that consumers would appreciate and recognize when making choices at the point of purchase,” says Eileen T. Kennedy, dean of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Public Policy at Tufts University. The Smart Choices Program “can help today’s busy shoppers make smarter choices for their families in store and at home.”
A coalition of scientists, nutritionists, consumer groups and food industry leaders spent the past two years working on the program. The American Society for Nutrition and NSF International, a not-for-profit public health organization, jointly administer the program.
More information can be found at www.SmartChoicesProgram.com.