Smart Choices suspends program

by Keith Nunes
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WASHINGTON – The Smart Choices nutrition labeling program voluntarily will postpone active operations and not encourage wider use of the Smart Choices nutrition logo by current or newly enrolled companies, said Mike Hughes, chair of the Smart Choices Program and vice-president for science and public policy at the Keystone Center. The Friday announcement comes shortly after the Food and Drug Administration announced on Oct. 20 that the agency is reviewing labels that communicate nutritional quality on front-of-package labels and how consumers are using the labels.

"We welcome the F.D.A.’s interest in developing uniform front-of-package and shelf-labeling criteria," said Mr. Hughes. "The Smart Choices Program shares that exact goal and was designed to provide a voluntary front-of-package labeling program that could promote informed food choices and help consumers construct healthier diets. We continue to believe the Smart Choices Program is an important step in the right direction."

Mr. Hughes also announced the group is working with Connecticut attorney general Richard Blumenthal, who earlier this month sent letters to food manufacturers seeking information into how the Smart Choices Program was developed.

"Our nutrition criteria are based on sound, consensus science," said Mr. Hughes. "But with the F.D.A.’s announcement this week that they will be addressing both front-of-package and on-shelf systems, and that uniform criteria may follow, it is more appropriate to postpone active operations and channel our information and learnings to the agency to support their initiative."

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