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Smarter than that

October 04, 2009

Re "Healthy eating or rotten labeling?" Sept. 29

The Smart Choices program is a great idea in theory, but in practice it seems to be a mechanism for the food industry to capitalize on consumers' concerns with healthy eating.

It's unfortunate that the program's loose restrictions may give consumers the impression of highly nutritious products when, in fact, the products are just altered enough to meet the already lenient criteria.

This could be a very powerful tool in addressing high rates of chronic disease in this country, but only if it is actually used to differentiate the healthy options from those of less nutritional value.

I echo nutritionist Leslie Mikkelsen's recommendation to exclude the food industry from developing these guidelines, as its involvement may be serving its own interests more than those of the consumer.

Jennifer Tillett

Oakland

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Whom can you trust? At a time when the food industry has manufactured an obesity epidemic through product manipulation and misleading label language, along comes another ruse: Smart Choices.

Remember this mantra: Packaged foods are not as healthy as fresh. Processed foods by the very nature of preparation are less nutritious. Food companies add sugar and other sweeteners as well as salt to enhance flavor. Government oversight is needed to protect the public. In the meantime, read labels. You can trust them.

Jerome P. Helman

Venice

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I am left feeling cynical about the whole Smart Choices labeling issue. As nutrition professor Marion Nestle is quoted: "This is about marketing, not about health." If it were about nutrition, the conversation would be about consuming fewer processed foods. Period.

As someone who is not easily swayed by how foods are labeled, I see it as one more piece of print to ignore. One more food health claim to distrust.

The last straw for me was when my mayonnaise was labeled "no carbs." When was mayonnaise ever a carbohydrate?

Rachelle Fox

Los Angeles

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