Smart Choices Campaign Goes Bye-Bye

The not-so-convincing marketing campaign Smart Choices, which tried to frame Froot Loops as part of a healthy breakfast, has been snuffed out, reports.

The FDA investigated the campaign as potentially misleading. This after medical professionals started to bail on the effort last month. writes:

After the FDA decided to bash some skulls over this blatantly misleading marketing efffort, the food industry players in charge of the initiative, including Kellogg Co., Kraft Foods and General Mills, have decided to call it all off for now. Smart Choices officials said that they will “postpone” the program and avoid encouraging any more use of the labels until the FDA makes a judgment.

So sorry, Toucan Sam, your wares are no longer considered healthy by hucksters.

Smart Choices Labeling Gets the Axe []
(Photo: frankieleon)
(Thanks, Mike!)


Edit Your Comment

  1. subtlefrog says:

    They’ve been saying “Part of this complete breakfast” on the commercials for years, showing things like orange juice and milk and stuff next to the bowl of cereal. I’ve always wondered how many small children ate all of that for breakfast.

    • bombhand says:

      @subtlefrog: Yeah, “this balanced breakfast” always seemed to consist of six muffins, an apple, an orange, a glass of milk, a slice of toast, and a soft-boiled egg. It always seemed to me that the breakfast would be just as balanced without the cereal as with.

      • zandar says:

        @bombhand: Ditto. The balanced breakfast parts were never the cereal.

        On their own, a glass of juice and (whole grain) toast make a fine breakfast. Cereal sabatages the whole thing by adding refined sugar, which kids do not need, and a multitude of chemicals (granted, some are vitamins and minerals) best obtained from whole foods.

        Not that any of this prevented me for begging for, and sometimes getting, sugary cereals when I was a kid. I am much more strict about it with my own kids, theyve learned to not even bother asking. Consequently they haven’t developed the emotional investment in them my parents let me develop.

    • calquist says:

      @subtlefrog: I just recently saw one of those commercials and the complete breakfast was OJ, apple and the cereal. I was pleased. I can’t remember the cereal though… but it was on Nickelodeon.

    • Several says:
    • Eyebrows McGee (now with double the baby!) says:

      @subtlefrog: For years — and by that I mean “until I went to college” — I was not allowed to leave the house until I’d eaten a bowl of homemade granola cereal with skim milk, a glass of orange juice, and a piece of whole wheat toast (with margarine).

      These days I usually have a diet coke for breakfast. (I know, I know, but I wake up slow in the morning and can’t cope with making my own breakfast.)

      • dragonfire81 says:

        @Eyebrows McGee (now with more baby!): There’s a walmart ad now that talks about kids being able to have a “healthy” breakfast for about $5.

        The “healthy” breakfast consists of some kind of frozen sausage biscuit thing, a pillsbury toaster strudel and a glass of OJ. Yeah, that’ll lower the heart attack risk for sure.

    • amuro98 says:

      @subtlefrog: Has anyone else noticed that the “piece of toast” has now been replaced by a Pop-Tart? Yes, that’s a balanced breakfast! Bowl of sugar bombs, more sugar in the pop-tart, and wash it down with a glass of milk and orange juice.

  2. umbriago says:

    I accept you as you are, Froot Loops. You weren’t health food before this and you’re still not but I love you no less, Froot Loops.

  3. justagigilo85 says:

    I’d rather get my education from teachers and professors rather than corporations.

    Good riddance.

  4. Segador says:

  5. farcedude says:

    What gets me is that they still are trying to get you to think that these sugar loaded cereals are the best thing out there for your kids. I was in the grocery store yesterday, and saw that a bunch of cereals, including cocoa puffs, said “Boost your child’s immune system!” on the front, due to all the extra vitamins and minerals that they’d stuffed into them.

    • amuro98 says:


      At least the added vitamins were in the cereal.

      I forget which cereal it was, but at one point they used to print “Great source of calcium!” on their boxes. Problem is, the cereal itself contained no calcium. It’s only when you poured calcium-rich milk over the cereal that, taa-daa!, the cereal suddenly becomes a “great source of calcium.”

      Why don’t they do this with other foods? Potato Chips – A Great Source Of Calcium (when you eat them with a glass milk.)

  6. suburbancowboy says:

    They were adding things to the smart choices list because they had one healthy thing in it. Froot Loops were on the list because it had fiber in it, even though the number one ingredient is sugar, and it uses hydrogenated oils.

    By this logic, if I took a dump on the sidewalk and then sprinkled metamucil on top of it, it would be a “smart choice” because it was high in fiber.

    • RPHP says:

      @suburbancowboy: I think there were other standards things had to hit – for instance cereals had to have no more than 12 grams of sugar per serving. However, the criticism was that these standards for how much bad stuff could be in there were to relaxed and the standards for how much good stuff had to be in were also to relaxed.

      • Outrun1986 says:

        @RPHP: Yeah, exactly what constitutes a serving though. I seriously don’t know anyone who measures out “a serving” of their cereal. They just pour it into the bowl. So a serving could be 1/2 cup with 12g of sugar in it (no I don’t know what the actual serving is). The typical bowl American’s eat is probably a lot more than that, which means a lot more sugar.

        Frankly I don’t measure it either, too much trouble and well, I get pretty hungry in the morning (its the only meal of the day where I get really hungry). I fill up on basic cheerios and a banana though, hardly any sugar in there. Its about the best you can do for cereal’s and I have checked all the labels.

    • PrincessOfPower says:

      @suburbancowboy: and it would still taste better than Froot Loops.

  7. oneandone says:

    Nice work, but I’d disagree with the characterization of what the FDA did as ‘bashing skulls’. More like let the various involved companies know that they actually would be enforcing existing regulations. A strongly worded letter is not bashing skulls. Even handing down fines for violations should be considered SOP. Sad that any kind of by-the-books action is seen as a smackdown.

  8. mommiest says:

    My kids have never been allowed to pick out a cereal without looking at sugar content. Once they do fractions in school, take the number of grams of sugar and divide by the number of grams in the serving size. Seeing a cereal that is one-third sugar by weight is not unusual, and I’ve seen one that’s closer to half; not sure how that’s possible, but modern food manufacturing is miraculous.

    Now that they are older, I compromise a little: up to one-fifth sugar is allowed, as long as it’s not every day.

  9. Naame says:

    Excellent. I am pleased.

  10. Ronin-Democrat says:

    I think lucy saw this coming 50+ years ago

    • Kimaroo - 100% Pure Natural Kitteh says:

      @Ronin-Democrat: That is my most favorite Lucy bit eeevvveerrrrr.

      Are you tired, run down, listless? Do you pop out at parties? Are you unpoopular?


  11. georgi55 says:

    Now if they can stop that annoying “your kids will shine” pop tarts commercial

  12. valleyval says:

    Great now how am I going to know which cereals provide my daily servings of Froot?

  13. bohemian says:

    They still need to do more about these kind of deceptive labels and faux campaigns. This was a marketing effort using misleading statements to make people think some official entity has declared Froot Loops et al good for you. If your paying attention you probably see through the charade. Most people are too busy and too distracted to do anything but hear or see “healthy” or some official looking endorsement.

    • rickn99 says:

      You have a link to your marketing research to back up your facts?

      My gut tells me that “most” people are not too busy or distracted to think Froot Loops are healthy because someone else says so.

  14. Outrun1986 says:

    I think they need to do more about the serving size labels on food. The serving sizes we actually eat are often much different than what is on the box. Some companies have done it like Skinny Cow, who lists the calories in both 2 of their skinny dippers and calories in one, in case you decide to eat 2 of them. Not that I can’t just double the numbers of the first one, but its nice that someone is trying.

    I think pop tarts is the worst offender of this, they are packaged as 2, but a serving is said to be 1 on the box. Who the heck eats only one?? It doesn’t even come in a resealable bag.

    I think if a product is packaged in a single package or single serve bottle then I think they should list the calories for both “a serving” and the whole package or bottle. Some single serve bottles actually contain 2 servings and so do some single serve bags of snacks. Some bags that appear to be single serve even contain 3 servings as per the nutritional information.

    IMO this scam has gone on long enough, give us the numbers if we eat the whole thing as well as if we eat a serving.

    • PsiCop says:

      @Outrun1986: A few years ago when the FDA revised labeling standards, they addressed serving-size. But in the time since then, companies have figured out how to game even those improved, revised standards. So yes, it’s time to revise even the revisions, and perhaps work on a standard that can’t so easily be gamed.

      … Yeah, I know, when pigs fly.

      • Outrun1986 says:

        @PsiCop: The skinny cow pops I am talking about are also packaged individually, so they are really going out of their way to give you enough nutritional information to make an informed decision. But I guess they are small enough where a person is likely to eat 2 of them in one sitting so that probably explains why they did it. Forgot to put that in the original post.

        I heard that in order to get under the guidelines for the smart choice program, the companies were just decreasing the serving size, which also decreases the amount of sugar and everything else in a product making it compile with the guidelines, but only if the portion you eat is incredibly small. So you look at the numbers and say oh this is good for you, but in reality if you eat more than a small portion (and who doesn’t) your really getting more fat and calories than you expect. I suspect other companies are doing this as well especially with foods that have too much of what they shouldn’t in them.

        It seems they can game even those who know to look at the numbers.

    • jamar0303 says:

      @Outrun1986: Better is just to force everyone to list “per 100ml” or “per 100g” with exceptions for smaller packages like they do in Japan. That did scare me once, though- I thought a package of Japanese candy had over 400 calories until I realized that the bag was 1/3 of the “per 100g” measure. On the plus side you also get to tell what will be let on the plane and what won’t.

  15. kaceetheconsumer says:

    Good. I know too many busy mamas who believe health labels. Yeah, they should read up more and be more savvy, but I’ve only got one kid and I barely have time for that kind of thing, so I’m not going to stomp on other busy mamas.

    They shouldn’t be allowed to lie to us like this. I’m glad this is gone and I’d like to see other bogus labels gone too.

  16. PrincessOfPower says:

    Has anyone seen those recent Nutella commercials, where the mom goes on and on about how healthy it is, and how she loves feeding it to her kid on whole wheat bread, and how it has nuts and milk and other good stuff in it? It’s freaking chocolate spread, for pete’s sake!! It’s such an obvious attempt by the advertisers to make Nutella into something it’s not.

  17. mariospants says:

    Just remember, there is no fruit in “fruit loops”. Just sayin’, in case someone should feel compelled to launch a lawsuit.