Healthy bites

Upfront on nutrition facts
A new front-of-pack nutrition labeling program has been designed to help shoppers make more nutritious food and beverages choices. Developed under the leadership of the Keystone Center, a non-profit organization that specializes in creating consensus solutions to a public health council, the Smart Choices Program is intended to bring “clarity and consistency to the marketplace that’s currently cluttered by multiple systems.”

The Smart Choices Program includes a symbol that identifies more nutritious choices within specific product categories and provides calorie information that identifies calories per serving and servings per container on front-of-pack. A number of companies, including Coca-Cola, ConAgra Foods, General Mills, Kellogg Co., Kraft Foods, PepsiCo, Unilever and Wal-Mart have stated they are likely to implement the new on-pack nutritional guidance system.

“This effort has been extraordinary on two levels,” says coalition participant Eileen T. Kennedy, DSc, RD, dean of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University. “First, it’s been a tremendous accomplishment to achieve consensus among a diverse group of influential stakeholders. Second, we’ve created a program that shows real promise in assisting people in making positive dietary changes to help enhance public health.”

To qualify for the symbol, products cannot exceed standards for specific nutrients to limit, such as total fat, saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, added sugars and sodium. For most categories the offerings must also provide positive attributes or nutrients to encourage, such as calcium, potassium, fiber, magnesium, vitamin A, C, and E, as well as food groups to encourage, such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and low fat or fat-free dairy. The Smart Choices Program symbol and calorie information will begin appearing on packages in mid-2009.

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Ian’s gets Healthy Handfuls:
Lawrence, Mass.-based Ian’s, a manufacturer of all-natural and organic foods for kids, has acquired the Healthy Handfuls brand. Known for its animal-shaped organic snack foods packaged in snack boxes and pouches, Healthy Handfuls was formed in 2002 with the goal of providing convenient, healthful snacks that fit into kids’ busy schedules. Terence Salton, COO and general manager for Ian’s, says the company is thrilled to extend its successful product line with the acquisition of Healthy Handfuls. “The addition of Healthy Handfuls to the Ian’s brand will allow Ian’s to offer busy parents more organic and nutritious snack options that their kids will love,” he says.

Energy boost: Building on the success of its On Track line, Fresno, Calif.-based Bouquet of Fruits has announced the addition of four new flavors to its all-natural fruit energy bar offerings. Made with no added sugar or trans fats, the bars are said to be high in fiber, antioxidants and vitamins C and E. Each bar contains one serving of fruit, which company officials claim is from California sun dried fruit and not from concentrate. The new varieties include Fig Raisin, Blueberry Nut, Apple Cinnamon and Chocolate Banana. Suggested retail price for an On Track bar ranges from .99-cents to $1.25.
Diabetic-friendly designation: Kellogg Co. is reaching out to diabetic consumers with a new Diabetic Friendly Seal that has been designed to help people with diabetes manage their diets while still enjoying some of their favorite foods. Based on criteria determined by third-party, science-based organizations, the seal is appearing on the side panel of select boxes of the Battle Creek, Mich.-based company’s ready-to-eat cereal line. In order for a box to feature the seal, one serving of the offering must have less than or equal to 30 grams of carbohydrates; less than or equal to nine grams of sugar; less than or equal to three grams of fat; and less than or equal to one gram of saturated fat and zero grams of trans fat based on a 2,000-calorie -per-day diet.

Mobile Omega:
Omega To Go is the latest addition to the drink mix category from San Diego-based To Go Brands. Featuring Omega-3 fatty acids from a vegetarian DHA produced by Martek Biosciences Corp. called Life’s DHA, the product has been designed to be added to a bottle of water, resulting in a quick and portable nutritional boost. According to company officials, Omega-3s are the good fats needed by the body for optimal cognitive, visual, and cardiovascular development and function. Omega To Go contains 100 mg of Omega-3 rich DHA per packet. Suggested retail price is $6.95 for a box of six packets and $24.95 for a 24-count box.

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