Photo by yo te prefiero fuera de foco/Flickr CC
Three items on the Smart Choices front:
1. Let's start with the great video by ABC News. It features an incredulous Mark Bittman pulling check-marked products off supermarket shelves, along with Richard Kahn defending the program. Kahn, as I discussed in What to Eat, defended the American Diabetes Association's (ADA) implied endorsement of Post sugary cereals. When Jane Brody wrote about this in the New York Times, the Association promised to remove its logo from the products and did so after a bit.
2. The letter-writing campaign organized by Change.org has had the same effect: "Victory: Change.org Members Force Health Organizations to Back Away from Food Labeling Ploy."
The new marketing program, called "Smart Choices," is a front-of-the-package nutrition-labeling program designed in theory to help shoppers make smarter food choices.
But as the New York Times exposed earlier this month, the selections are anything but healthy. One of the selections is Froot Loops, which was chosen, according to one board member, because it's better for you than doughnuts. (No, we're not kidding. We couldn't make this up.)
Despite the program's dubious standards, it maintained the appearance of legitimacy because researchers associated with three reputable organizations--American Diabetes Association, American Dietetic Association, and Tufts University--were on its board.
In response, thousands of Change.org members sent letters to the presidents of these three major research institutions urging them to remove their name from the program.
The result? All three organizations responded to the pressure this week by publicly distancing themselves from the food labeling scheme and officially asking Smart Choices to remove their name from its website and marketing materials--thereby publicly embarrassing and discrediting the program.
Fine, but this one isn't over until the American Society of Nutrition (ASN) also extricates from its commitment to manage the program--a clear conflict of interest.