Ms. Hamburg said that the front of the package should give shoppers
quick access to key dietary information that is already provided in greater
detail in the Nutrition Facts box on the back or side of packages.
The Smart Choices program sent a letter on Friday to Dr. Hamburg and Mr.
Blumenthal saying it would stop recruiting companies to take part in the
program and stop promoting the program to consumers.
Eileen T. Kennedy, a nutritionist who is president of the Smart Choices
board, said that the program was not bowing to outside pressures.
“I’m actually pleased that F.D.A. has moved in this direction,” Dr.
Kennedy said. “I think it’s one more step in decreasing any confusion that’s
out there in the marketplace.”
David DeCecco, a spokesman for PepsiCo, said the company was pulling out
of the program in anticipation of working with the new F.D.A. rules. He said
that only a few products, like Life cereal and instant oatmeal, made by
PepsiCo’s Quaker division, had carried the logo.
“We really just had our toe in the water,” Mr. DeCecco said.
Kellogg’s said it would maintain ties to the program and that Celeste A.
Clark, the company’s senior vice president of global nutrition, would remain
on the program’s board.
Kraft, another participant, said that it planned to stay involved in the
program and had no plans to remove the logo from packaging.
Michael F. Jacobson, executive director of the Center for Science in the
Public Interest, an advocacy group, had worked with the Smart Choices
program to help develop its criteria, but resigned last year out of concerns
that the standards were too loose.
Mr. Jacobson said he believed that the companies involved in Smart
Choices had hoped to head off federal regulation of package-front labeling
by showing they could develop an acceptable system on their own.
“It clearly blew up in their faces,” Mr. Jacobson said. “And the ironic
thing is, their device for pre-empting government involvement actually seems
to have stimulated government involvement.”
By WILLIAM NEUMAN
Published: October 23, 2009 NYT
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