'Smart Choices' Food Labels Are Coming

You may see a new food label -- called "Smart Choice" -- on the front of packaged goods, starting next year.

Foods eligible for the "Smart Choices" symbol must meet certain nutritional standards. They can't have too much of nutrients that should be limited (total fat, saturated fat, trans fat , cholesterol , added sugars, and sodium). And they have to have nutrients such as calcium, potassium , fiber, magnesium , vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin E or food groups such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat or fat-free dairy.

The Smart Choices labels will also display calories per serving and the number of servings per container. The point is to make it easier for consumers to compare products, instead of sifting through labels that vary from company to company.

The Smart Choice Program, which was coordinated by the nonprofit Keystone Group, isn't mandatory. Food companies are free to participate (or not) as they choose.

Companies that have said they will likely participate in the Smart Choices Program include Coca-Cola, ConAgra Foods, General Mills, Kellogg, Kraft Foods, Pepsico, Unilever U.S., and Wal-Mart. Nestle is considering participating in the program.

The Smart Choices labels are expected to start showing up in stores in mid-2009.

By Miranda Hitti
Reviewed by Louise Chang
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