Smart Choices: the green checkmark in food products

September 3, 2009 by  
Filed under OBESITY

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green-checkmarkIf you live in the US,  ever been to the supermarket lately? Have you checked for the green checkmark in the items that you bought? No? Well, here is something that you need to know.

What’s the green checkmark?

First, let me tell about the green checkmark. It’s a symbol that a product can proudly carry if it meets the nutritional criteria of Smart Choices Program.  The checkmark is aimed to help consumers make healthier choices when buying food in the supermarket. The logo has been in use in the US since August 2009.

What’s the Smart Choices Program?

The Smart Choices Program was developed based on the value of a single, credible, and uniform front-of-package nutrition labeling system that U.S. food manufacturers and retailers can voluntarily adopt to help consumers at-a-glance identify smarter food and beverage choices within product categories that fit within their daily calorie needs. The new symbol will be allowed only on those products that meet strict science-based nutrition criteria derived from the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, reports from the Institute of Medicine, and other sources of consensus dietary guidance.

The Program and its criteria were initiated by a group of scientists, health experts, health advocates, as well as representative of the food industry.

Who gets to use the green checkmark?

Only those products that met the Nutrition Criteria of the program get to use the symbol on their packaging. The criteria were developed for the 19 most common products(which include beverages, cereals, meats, dairy, and snacks) that we buy at the supermarket. The criteria are based on:

  • Nutrients to limit (we need to eat less , e.g. fats, cholesterol, sugar, sodium, etc.)
  • Nutrients to encourage (vitamins, minerals, fiber, etc.)
  • Food groups to encourages (vegetables, fruit, whole grains)

The nutrition criteria were derived from the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, FDA standards, reports from the Institute of Medicine and other sources of authoritative dietary guidance.

Who makes sure the checkmark is not misused?

The American Society for Nutrition is responsible for implementing program and making sure the checkmark is not misused. Especially important is to keep the green checkmark a “science-based” symbol, thus maintaining the program’s “scientific integrity.”

What does the checkmark tell us?

The green checkmark can be viewed as accreditation, a mark of approval from top American experts on nutrition. Aside from the logo, it is also required that the calorie per serving and number of servings per container are prominently displayed in front of the package. This is especially important for those who want to lower or maintain their weight by keeping to their daily calorie requirements. The new information on the package facilitates calorie content comparison and making wise choices.

Is the checkmark forever?

The criteria behind the mark may change.  The criteria were designed to be flexible and adaptable – allowing for revisions to new public policy, dietary guidelines and emerging authoritative science.

So next time you go to the supermarket, look out for the green checkmark! It’s for your information!

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One Response to “Smart Choices: the green checkmark in food products”
  1. Andrew Biggs says:

    I buy a lot of food that have the “Smart Choices” logo printed on them, It gives me some confidence that the food I eat is healthier. The market is full of genetically modified products that have lot`s of fats and cholesterol. A lot of people have Eating Disorder Treatments and products “that meet strict nutrition criteria” will help them maintain a healthy way of living.

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