I just recently spent a full hour on a single isle at a local grocery store admiring all the health claims found on cereal boxes. I started to get that warm and fuzzy feeling you normally get when you buy something you think is good for you… Did you know that Kellogg’s Corn Pops provides fiber and is a great way to keep your kid healthy?? Or how bout that Cheerio’s reduce the risk of heart disease and can help manage weight and lower cholesterol? How about Post Alpha- Bits Cereal claiming that it supports healthy brain development in children?? Or my all time favorite one, that Cocoa Crispies now helps cure swine flu!!! Ever since Kellogg arranged with the National Cancer Institute to endorse a health claim on All Bran Cereal Back in 1984, cereal companies have literally gone “wild” with their health claims to help increase sales. I don’t think it’s too much to say that if things continue to proceed in the direction they seem to be headed, in a few years we should start seeing claims like “Cheerio’s may help cure cancer” or that “Frosted Mini Wheat’s helps people with Multiple Sclerosis”. As bizarre as some of the health claims may seem, you have to admit that the whole topic is a bit comical. I mean, the fact that the FDA allowed the industry itself to create the Smart Choices Program, which bears the healthy green checkmark of approval, indicating certain foods as being “healthy” food choices. I mean who doesn’t like the taste of Fruit Loops Cereal in the morning, especially when the box has a green checkmark on it indicating that it is a “smart choice”. It should make you feel even better about your purchase. Don’t worry about the fact that upon closer inspection, Fruit Loops contains nearly 44% sugar and is extremely processed and refined.. Remember here, the cereal companies are not out to “boost” America’s health, especially the kids who are eating them on a daily basis. The cereal companies are indeed out to “boost” their sales and long term market statistics show that health claims on packages do just that. Of course all of the cereal companies know this and are literally taking their health claims to the bank. Kellogg, the largest cereal manufacture in the world, spent $32 million in 2008 to promote Rice Krispies alone and an additional $4 million on Cocoa Krispies. Perhaps this is how companies get labels on boxes such as the extremely controversial health claim “Immunity Boosting” on boxed cereal that is nothing more than processed junk food. $36 million dollars as a backing can’t hurt right??? However, this is not to say that the cereal companies, with all their hefty financial backing haven’t met resistance. Back in late 2009, Dennis Herrera, a city attorney for San Francisco, single handily stood up to Kellogg’s absurd “immunity” claim stating that “the claims may falsely suggest to parents that cereals like Cocoa Krispies are more healthy for their children than other breakfast foods and mislead parents into believing that serving this sugary cereal will actually boost their child’s immunity.” As an article in the San Francisco Chronicle states shortly after the incident, Kellogg wisely decided to “phase out” of the immunity-labeled Cocoa Krispies packages. Consider them a collectors item!!! The Smart Choices program has also met it’s fair share of resistance as well. On August 19th, 2009, two members of the FDA including Michael Taylor(Senior Advisor for Food Safety) and Jerold Mande(Deputy Undersecretary for Food Safety) sent a letter to the Smart Choices Program putting them on what nutrition expert Marion Nestle calls “High Alert”. The FDA is now closely monitoring and evaluating the program and with any hope will eventually put an end to this ridiculous industry sponsored program touting health claims on extremely processed junk foods. Until this happens, I will continue to get a laugh when I walk down the supermarket isle and see foods like Aunt Jemima’s pancake syrup bearing the Smart Choices logo on the front………….