This is absolutely 100% about money. Marketing. Sales. Period. I don't care how you cut it this whole thing is an insult and a joke. Consumers should be insulted. This organization should be ashamed and the board members and nutritionists involved should be embarrassed. To attach your name and reputation to something that promotes obviously NOT smart food is just plain wrong. I also think that the ASN (American Society of Nutrition) has succeeded in completely ruining it's credibility - I'm perplexed.
In defense of the program, those involved are saying that we must start somewhere and meet people where they are at. This is supposed to make the average person in a hurry while shopping make a better decision. YO - slow down... hmmm, should you eat the donut or the Froot? hmmm, well let's see, I think you should eat the Froot because it has lots of added stuff so you can feel good about it. Feeeeeel good. It's OK, really, they even added some fiber so now instead of neon constipation you'll be movin' like a dream.
I am all for a program that would indicate better choices. Many people rely on front of package indicators like this for information about nutrition. The dietary guidelines may not be all that bad (although not ideal) but when you look at the approved list of foods it becomes mind boggling. Fortifying an otherwise not so great food makes it qualify for the check mark. I would say the criteria are flawed.
If you want to meet people where they are inform them, educate them. Teach them that high fructose corn syrup provides zero nutritional value and is probably making their kids bounce off the wall every day. Teach them that just because you add vitamins and minerals to something doesn't take away the fact that it is crap. Help them wean themselves from sugar. Instead of shoving a bowl of Cocoa Puffs in front of your kid, give them a bowl of Cheerios (which did make the list) and if they need sweetness to choke it down throw a spoonful of sugar on it and over time make the spoonful smaller. I totally get the whole baby steps and meeting people where they are... really, I do. I'm all about baby steps.
I'm going to wrap up this particular rant with a list of some of the foods that made the cut.
Teddy Grahams and Fruit Roll-ups ... (this kills me because parents are fooling themselves with these)
Bagel-Fuls with cherry filling and cream cheese