Food cos. dropping Smart Choices labeling

Oct. 24, 2009 at 10:07 AM

WASHINGTON, Oct. 24 (UPI) -- U.S. food manufacturers say they are moving away from an industry-devised labeling campaign meant to spotlight the nutritional benefits of their products.

PepsiCo and Kellogg's have announced they are phasing out the Smart Choices labeling campaign, which sports a green checkmark on the front of packages, The New York Times reported Saturday.

Officials of the Smart Choices program told the newspaper most of its operations would be suspended. The move comes after the labels received criticism from state and federal authorities who say they could mislead consumers into thinking processed foods high in sugar were an adequate substitute for healthier foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables and whole grains.

"I regard it as a partial victory," Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal told the Times. He has begun an investigation into the program to determine if the labeling campaign violated his state's consumer protection law and has reportedly urged more companies to pull out of the program.

U.S. Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Margaret Hamburg says the agency is moving quickly to devise its own rules for package-front nutrition labeling, which has historically been loosely regulated, the newspaper said.

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