Marion Nestle on labeling processed food as ‘better’

Label it conflicted: Today’s Food Matters column by Marion Nestle looks at the ‘better/smarter/healthier choice’ labels being used by big food companies to (theoretically) help shoppers eat a healthier diet. Not surprisingly, Nestle sees it as a marketing effort, not a serious nutritional effort. For years the qualifications to receive a label have been set by the manufacturer, leading to fairly weak requirements.  But soon we’ll be seeing the “Smart Choices” label, a result of collaboration between the food industry and health groups like the American Dietetic Association, the American Heart Association and the American Society of Nutrition.  Nestle sees a significant conflict of interest for these groups, since they are being paid to essentially endorse foods that many of their members have significant doubts about. In addition, nutritionists aren’t even sure that “dietary guidance programs” like the labels are effective ways of improving public health.   (San Francisco Chronicle)

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