Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Big Food Strikes Again: "For Your Health, Froot Loops"

If you still had any doubts that most of the big food companies care more about their bottom lines than our health, just read “For Your Health, Froot Loops,” an article that appeared in Saturday’s New York Times.

The Smart Choices Program—in theory—helps consumers make better decisions at the supermarket. However, the program is funded by huge multinationals, which explains why foodstuffs such as Froot Loops cereal, Skippy peanut butter and Fudgsicle bars earn a green checkmark, the Smart Choices sign of approval.

Can someone please explain what Celeste Clark, senior vice president of global nutrition for Kellogg’s, is thinking?

“Froot Loops is an excellent source of many essential vitamins and minerals and it is also a good source of fiber with only 12 grams of sugar," Clark said. "You cannot judge the nutritional merits of a food product based on one ingredient.”

Assuming Clark wants us to forget about Froot Loops’ sugar—its first ingredient—what should we do about its partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, red 40, blue 2, yellow 6 and blue 1?

At least Clark has the excuse that she is being paid by Kellogg’s. Much more disturbing is the case of Eileen Kennedy, the unpaid president of the Smart Choices board.

According to the article, Kennedy “defended the products endorsed by the program, including sweet cereals. She said Froot Loops was better than other things parents could choose for their children.”

Like what? Feeding them to lions?

But what Kennedy thinks isn’t that important; her day job is only being the dean of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University.

I don't think Mr. and Mrs. Friedman are too happy right now.


Anonymous said...

On the one hand it amazes me how a person with Eileen Kennedy's views is in such a position of power over our food choices and on the other hand it is exactly why our children are eating so unhealthily!

Anonymous said...

Any decent nutritionist, or person who actually cares about the health of children, would know that a healthy cereal should always have at least 4 grams of fiber per 100 calories and less than 5 grams of sugar-good going Froot Loops-you've switched it up with 10 grams of sugar and 1 gram of fiber! "Smart Choice"...I suppose, if it's opposite day. Ms. Kennedy should be ashamed of herself.

kenny said...

This is ridiculous. I will ignore Ms. Clark's comments. They are irrelevant, frankly, as she is a PR person for a sugar machine, not anyone who should be counted on for serious nutrional guidance. Ms. Kennedy's comments, however, are not only unacceptable, but dangerous. She needs to come clean IMMEDIATELY and explain her organization's criteria for handing out Smart Choices' approval stamps. As a parent of two trying to survive the hustle and bustle of parenting,which includes trying to feed my child in a healthy way, a Smart Choices approval used to carry some weight. What's next: Ms. Kennedy gives the Smart Choices approval to MSG infected Egg Rolls. Well, sure, they also are likely to be "better than other things parents could choose for their children." Like crack, for instance. It doesn't mean it's healthy.

Anonymous said...

Kennedy's remarks are ridiculous. She doesn't have a clue about nutrition and probably eats TV dinners on a nightly basis.

Anonymous said...

I am not sure how anyone in Ms. Kennedy's position could argue for the merits of Fruit Loops. While it is true that food such as Fruit Loops is "better than other things parents could choose for their children”, there certainly are a plethora of foods that are significantly better than Fruit Loops - it's irresponsible at best for her to make those comments.

Courtney said...

Very sad how large companies are influencing healthy choices by manipulative marketing methods.

Jonathan Herbert said...

Good God Rob,

I really wanted to leave a reasoned comment surprisingly free of my usual vituperation. I am being challenged to do so, as I often am when I run into the vicious, evil greed that is so pervasive at the "pinnacle" of the socioeconomic pyramid.

Either that Kennedy woman is a first class idiot, or something far more nefarious drives her comment that Heck, it's better than a donut. And for that matter, does she have something against cops?!

Let us rather hear from Dr. Willett of Harvard, as quoted in the same article. Walter C. Willett, chairman of the nutrition department of the Harvard School of Public Health.

He said the criteria used by the Smart Choices Program were seriously flawed, allowing less healthy products, like sweet cereals and heavily salted packaged meals, to win its seal of approval. “It’s a blatant failure of this system and it makes it, I’m afraid, not credible,” Mr. Willett said.

People like that woman from Tufts make me puke almost as often as the "food" that the unconscionable creeps who run AgriBusiness try to feed us.

Small farms. Real food.

Brian said...

Neat trick by the big food companies to create and fund an "independent" labeling system to endorse their products. 2 of the many things that scare me about this:
-that the average consumer (me) can be sucked in by a colorful box that has a green check mark and an empty phrase like "smart choices" slapped on it (if it didn't work, these companies wouldn't be paying thousands of dollars to do it)
-that someone can achieve a tenured position at a prominent university and still wind up on record in the Times defending Fruit Loops