Attorney General: 'Smart Choices' not always the smartest

The Smart Choices food labeling program came under fire from Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, who questioned the justification for labeling products like mayonnaise and sugary cereals "smart."

The Smart Choices food labeling program came under fire from Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, who questioned the justification for labeling products like mayonnaise and sugary cereals "smart."

Noting that Hellmann's mayonnaise and Cocoa Puffs cereal were tagged as Smart Choices, Blumenthal said that "meaningful nutritional information is welcome, but not faux food facts."

In a sharply worded rebuke, Blumenthal castigated the Smart Choices program for presenting food labels that were "false and misleading." Such labels, he said, could "delay" the "prevention of obesity and malnutrition."

Obesity, in particular, is a growing problem in America. Obese people live shorter lives and have an increased risk of contracting heart disease and diabetes, among other conditions.

Blumenthal hoped to ascertain the methods by which the Smart Choices program is administered and seek out any connections between food manufacturer payments and Smart Choice certification.

Coming on the tail of Blumenthal's criticism was a report by market research firm NPD, which indicated that healthy eating habits in children are closely aligned with those of their mothers. The report's author, Dori Hickey, suggests that "the food and beverage industry can help" expand families' nutrition knowledge.

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Posted: October 19, 2009

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