Great news! On October 20th, the Attorney General issued a statement saying that the FDA will begin to crack down on misleading nutritional logos and labeling. You might recognize this “smart choices” label from a box of Trix breakfast cereal (is that reeeeally a smart way to start your day?). Labels like "smart choices" are deceptive. The labels will advertise that a product has a low fat content, while the product's nutritional value is actually quite pathetic. The FDA Commissioner, Margaret Hamburg, has even said that there are many “smart choice” items that contain nearly 50% sugar! Definitely not smart.
Basically, the "smart choices" marketing scam has been used to make unhealthy packaged foods seem more nutritious to consumers. Thankfully, the FDA is now working to create nutritional STANDARDS for companies to meet before claiming that their products are healthy. The companies involved in the smart choices program (Kelloggs, Kraft, General Mills, Unilever, etc.) have begun to realize how bad this news looks. Five days ago, Kraft announced that the company is phasing out the logo. Many other companies are beginning to follow suit.It is SO exciting that the FDA is finally cracking down on labeling. When it comes to the regulation of food and consumer products, the U.S. has always fallen behind Europe. But let’s be honest, the Naturalchemyst is really excited about this news for other reasons, as well... Hopefully this is the tip of the iceberg for FMCG (fast moving consumer good) regulation.
Currently, there is no regulation whatsoever for logos or labeling on personal care products. Any product can be labeled as "natural" or "organic", even if the product is composed of only .1% natural ingredients...or less. The uber-marketers of personal care products have taken advantage of this loophole, and have been using the same marketing scams as the guilty food conglomerates! This is the reason for my mantra, “NATURAL INGREDIENTS ≠ NATURAL", and it is also the reason why we need to read the actual ingredients label before purchasing a product!
Needless to say, this is groundbreaking news for the FMCG industry. There was not one, but TWO articles in this week’s Economist regarding new “healthy” food labeling standards. The FDA's statement came only eight days after the airing of Michael Pollan’s Botany of Desire on PBS, a mere five days after various states began to scrutinize food labels, and the same week as New York City’s report on calorie postings in fast food restaurants. We are more invested than ever in our health, and for obvious reasons, the world will want to know how the U.S. plans to regulate food and consumer products. Let’s hope that all this recent news regarding food labeling regulation will come to effect the personal care products industry, as well! And let's hope that it happens soon!