In our ongoing conversation about food labeling the the ecology of information, consider the "Smart Choices program" of select nutritional labels that food manufacturers have designed and prominently posted on the front of many foods.
Selling the sense of nutrition? Food companies say they are trying to do their part in helping consumers eat according to USDA nutritional guidelines; critics say they are trying to play with the visual language and authority of quantitative data to make things like Fruit Loops seem healthy for you. As one NYU nutritionist put it:
"The point of this program is to make processed foods look healthy when what you want is people to eat foods that have been as minimally processed as possible"
The companion video segment sums it all up quite well.
As it turns out, six weeks after first being reported on widely, federal regulators have stepped in and shut the program down saying that such systems could mislead consumers, which indeed seems like the whole point of the scheme...