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CPG labels promote ‘Smart Choices’


WASHINGTON —The Smart Choices Program labeling has gained support among major consumer packaged goods companies that are rolling out products featuring the program’s green check-mark icon on their packaging. The program, a voluntary front-of-package labeling system developed by a coalition of scientists, nutritionists, consumer organizations and food-industry leaders, was designed to help consumers make smarter food and beverage choices within certain categories.

Administered by the nonprofit American Society for Nutrition, the program grants the right to use the Smart Choices green check icon on products that meet strict criteria and display a calorie indicator. The program, which went into effect at the end of August, should bring clarity and consistency to nutritional labeling. By May 2010, more than 1,200 products should feature the symbol and calorie indicator.

More than 500 products from such CPG companies as General Mills, Kraft Foods, Kellogg Co. and PepsiCo already have qualified for the Smart Choices Program designation in the program’s 19 categories.

Unilever recently announced that several of its brands, including Ragu, Bertolli, Hellman’s, Skippy, Wish-Bone and Slim-Fast, qualify for the Smart Choices Program, and that packaging soon will carry the program’s check-mark logo. The company also plans to launch a consumer-education initiative called Become Label Conscious to promote the program.

Kraft Foods recently announced that it plans to become the first company to use the program’s nutrition criteria to identify which products it advertises to children ages 6 to 11. Kraft also will be rolling out products featuring the Smart Choices label, including Teddy Grahams and Kraft Macaroni & Cheese Crackers.

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