Wednesday, October 28, 2009


Much was made of the voluntary efforts by a few major food business players to come out with a consumer guidance system that can be printed prominently on the label, obviating the need to take pains to read the nutrition content of each and every label on different brands of products on the shelves. Thus was borne the much hyped voluntary "Smart Choices" symbol evolved in the US earlier and immediately adopted by some of the manufacturers. Now it turns out that many products with no credentials to be called nutritionally good, were able to get the symbol attracting strictures from the authorities and subsequent withdrawal of the system.

"The Smart Choices logo began appearing on food packages this summer but immediately met with criticism from some nutritionists who felt its criteria were too lax. They pointed to sugary cereals, like Froot Loops, and fat-heavy products like mayonnaise, which they said should not be considered among the healthiest choices in the supermarket. The first ingredient in Froot Loops is sugar. The F.D.A. sent the program a letter in August voicing concern that the label could lead consumers to choose highly processed foods over healthier foods, like fresh fruits and vegetables and whole grains".

It is unlikely that any single mechanism can be put in place to categorize foods based on nutrient content and health considerations. Food is a complex organic matrix and any processing is bound to affect its natural equilibrium to some extent. Our knowledge about impact of various processing techniques on different varieties of foods is still incomplete and prediction based on such limited data cannot be considered reliable. It must be born in mind that quantitative values of different nutrients, present in a product,do not reflect the quality of the final product.


No comments: