By Sarah Skidmore, AP Food Industry Writer
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — A food industry group is voluntarily halting promotion of its nutrition labeling program after federal regulators said such systems may be misleading consumers, officials with the group said Friday.
Industry leaders launched the "Smart Choices" program in August to identify foods that meet certain nutritional standards and then highlight them for consumers with a green label on package fronts.
But the Food and Drug Administration said Tuesday that there are so many labeling programs with different criteria that they may mislead consumers about the health benefits of certain foods. The agency told manufacturers it will crack down on inaccurate labeling, although it did not name specific products or give a timeline for enforcement.
Food makers, grocers, health organizations and others have created an array of voluntary nutrition labeling programs recently to draw consumers interested in more healthful foods.
Smart Choices, which includes nine major companies such as Kellogg Co., Kraft Foods Inc. and General Mills Inc., has been criticized for handing its green seal to processed foods that are high in sugar, such as Froot Loops cereal and Cracker Jack snack food.
Officials with Smart Choices in Washington said Friday that the group will "postpone" active operations and not encourage wider use of the logo while the FDA investigates labeling issues.