Hot Topic: Healthy Food Labels at the Market

by in Food News, January 30, 2009

Hate reading the fine print on food labels? Well, there’s good news. Grocery stores have found a way to help you shop for healthy foods.

This month Stop & Shop and Giant Food unveiled their “Healthy Ideas” plan. More than 3,000 products that meet select USDA standards will carry a bright green-and-blue symbol.

Big food companies such as Coca-Cola and General Mills also have added a similar “Smart Choice” logo on their healthier foods. The green checkmark helps shoppers quickly identify calorie and serving information.

This is not the first time we’ve seen healthy seals on foods. Check your pantry and you’ll likely find foods with The American Heart Association (AHA) “heart-check mark.” This symbol means a food contains 1 gram or less of saturated fat and 20 milligrams or less of cholesterol per serving and is a healthy option for folks over age 2.

I’ve also seen the Best Life seal at my local supermarket. This seal, created by Oprah’s guru Bob Greene, is on foods that contain one or more nutritious ingredients such as whole grains, healthy fats and fiber.

Which to Choose?
Any of these seals are a step in the right direction, but don’t live your life by them. They highlight healthy ingredients, but it may not mean they’re always the best choice and stocking up on packaged foods can get pricey. Continue to fill your cart with fresh fruits and veggies and use these to help learn more about your foods.

Have you seen any of these symbols or guides at your grocery store? What do you think?

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Comments (4)

  1. Kate, RD says:

    I can hardly keep track of all these nutrient profiling systems – it will be interesting to see if/when consumers demand that these programs converge. Definitely great advice to stick with the fruits and veggies!

  2. Beth says:

    I think society wants an easy way for others to tell them what they should eat with these food labels. People (or their doctors) should decide what nutrition information is the most important for them and their diet. And I feel like most people forget that it’s about variety, not eating the same “healthy” food every day.

  3. frances says:

    These food labels are a food industry trick to keep people from reading ingredient lists. The best place to shop is around the walls of a grocery store where the fresh produce, meat and dairy are. Health claims on boxes and sacks of dry goods are marketing BS.

  4. chaitali says:

    Yeah, I found something exciting at Stop & Shop, south windsor ct. I was excited when I read the labels of a fruity spread which said was low glycemic, 0 sugar. I read the label, was quite satisfied since I am on a low GI diet bjut still miss my jam on bread. But I was surprised to see that FDA would actually certify a product containing phenylanine. This is under study for causing nerve and mind problems. I am still studying its effects. Anyone who can shed light is welcome.

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