My husband and I radically changed our diets a few years ago. We had finally reached that age when calories, fat, salt, and sugar had to be carefully watched. The old boxed snacks and prepared foods were replaced with healthier choices, and nothing was purchased without reading the nutritional labels.
A while ago, I noticed a bright green symbol on some of our favorite healthy foods. The symbol had a large check mark on it, and the words “Smart Choices Made Easy.” It reminded me of the American Heart Association check mark that promoted heart healthy foods. Naturally, I rather assumed this was the same kind of program and began reaching for those foods marked with the Smart Spot. After all, they clearly were healthy choices. Foods bearing that Smart Spot symbol were low in calories, low in fat, and low in sugar, just the sort of food we should all be eating.
But, I soon discovered that not all healthy foods carried the Smart Spot label. Quaker Breakfast bars were identified as a “smart choice,” but not Kellogg’s Nutri-grain bars. Quaker’s rice crisps were also a “smart choice” but not GeniSoy’s soy chips, which is actually a healthier product. Even diet Pepsi had the logo, but not diet Coke. As my kids used to say, “What’s up with that?”
As it turned out, the Smart Spot program is just for products made by the Pepsi Company. Since they make over 250 healthy products that qualify for the Smart Spot seal, the PepsiCo lineup of Smart Spot foods really jumps out at you at the grocery store. And, when faced with the choice of buying a product that’s clearly labeled “Smart Choice” or not, who wouldn’t feel a twinge of guilt by grabbing the one that isn’t the “smarter choice?”
It really is a brilliant marketing campaign on behalf of PepsiCo. In 2006, over 40% of their revenues came from those products that are Smart Spot eligible, products such as Quaker Oats, Life cereal, Tropicana Orange juice, Aquafina water, and more. These revenues clearly show that American consumers are interested in healthier eating.
PepsiCo foods that earn the Smart Spot seal have limits on fat, sugar, cholesterol, and sodium. They also must provide 10% of a daily recommended allowance of one or more of the following: Vitamin A, C, iron, calcium, protein, or fiber and no more than 25% of calories from added sugar unless the product also contributes 10% DV of fiber. The product must also reduced in fat, sugar, and calories by at least 25% when compared to a base product and provide a functional benefit. (source: smartspot.com).
PepsiCo certainly must be commended for offering a nice selection of healthy foods for us health conscious Americans. They also sponsor and support many fitness programs including the Smart Spot Dance which promotes family fitness through an innovative inter-city dance program.
The products our family has purchased with the Smart Spot symbol are definitely healthier. And, there is no arguing that the bright green Smart Choice symbol makes it much easier to find those healthy snacks. However, just because a similar product does not have the Smart Spot symbol doesn’t make it less healthy. It only means that it’s not made by PepsiCo.