Tuesday, August 22, 2006

PepsiCo's 'Smart Spot' Not So Hot For Health

When you see the "Smart Spot," don't assume that means it's healthy!

When I purchased a bottle of Diet Pepsi Jazz the other day for my review here at this blog, I couldn't help but notice a new bright green label on the front that had the slogan "Smart Choices Made Easy" with a check mark in the middle as the logo. Not knowing what this was, I turned the bottle around and found the following explanation and web site information about it:

"Jazz Diet Pepsi Strawberries & Cream is a smart choice among soft drinks because it has zero sugar, zero calories and zero carbs per serving. Visit"

Okay, what's this all about? So I got home and looked around the Smart Spot web site and could not believe my eyes! What a preposterous premise for creating a marketing campaign all under the guise of health!

What I found when I got to was one of the most incredibly deceptive health propaganda web sites I think I have ever seen in my life. While this green symbol is supposed to help people make "better" and "smart" choices for a "healthier lifestyle," according to the web site, a closer look shows it is nothing more than a manipulative marketing piece touting all the food and beverage products from the company PepsiCo. WHAT A FREAKIN' CROCK OF YOU KNOW WHAT!!!

Have you actually seen the list of products that PepsiCo has put this "Smart Spot" logo on? They're not only ALL PepsiCo products, but many of them are not very hot for your health if you are livin' la vida low-carb.

Check out a small sampling of the "Smart Spot" products:

Dole® 100% Juice--54g carbs!
Tropicana® Fruit Smoothie--53g carbs!
SoBe® Synergy®--32g carbs!
Quaker® 100% Natural Low Fat Granola--45g carbs!
Quaker® Instant Oatmeal--33g carbs!
Aunt Jemima® Lite Syrup--26g carbs!
Baked! Tostitos® brand Tortilla Chips--24g carbs!
Quaker® Breakfast Cookies--22g carbs!
Tropicana® Fruitwise™ Fruit Bar--36g carbs!

Let's just have a carb-o-rama carb-fest, why don't we?! Sheeeeez! Are they serious about their claim that that green dot is supposed to help people "make better choices for you and your family." If so, the they had better rethink what products they are recommending people buy or else face a possible class action lawsuit when the health and weight problems of the people eating these products gets worse and worse because of all of those carbohydrates!

Is this just clever marketing or maniacal deception? Hmmmm?

So, how did they determine which products were considered "healthy" enough for the "Smart Spot?" Well, they turned to the "nutrition criteria based on authoritative statements of the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the National Academy of Sciences." You can read all about it by clicking here and you will notice something very familiar: lower fat and lower calorie products rule the roost and monopolize what is "healthy."

Ah, well that explains why so many low-fat, high-carb foods ended up on the list! They are using the ridiculous Food Pyramid as the be-all, end-all to define what is healthy and what is not. ARGH!!!

Looking under their S.M.A.R.T. Living page, you see exactly how PepsiCo thinks people should be living a healthy lifestyle using "smart" as an acronym:

Start with a healthy breakfast
What is a "healthy" breakfast anyway? Some high-carb cereal or breakfast bar loaded with so much sugar and white flour your body doesn't need? No thanks, I'll stick with my high-protein microwaved eggs thank you very much!

Move more
How much more vague can you get than "move more?" How about "move for a minimum of 30 minutes a day" and I'd be more inclined to like this one better. But I suppose "more" is ANYTHING over NONE!

Add more fruits, veggies & whole grains
Not all fruits, veggies and whole grains are necessarily healthy for you. GASP! Did I just say that out loud? Oh, but you can't criticize those things because they are an essential part of any healthy lifestyle. Everyone knows that! But you would be wrong. Many fruits, while full of some excellent nutrients, are much too high in sugar and, thus, carbs to be a part of your low-carb lifestyle. The same goes for many vegetables, too, especially the starchy ones. And don't get me started on the whole grain craze!

Remember to hydrate
No arguments from me on this suggestion, although I think you should try to stick with drinking lots of plain water as your primary source of hydration (which makes PepsiCo happy with their Aquafina bottled water sales!). But their Gatorade and fruit juices are way too high in sugar to be consumed by anyone on the low-carb lifestyle.

Try lower calories or fat
Alrighty then, now we're getting into the nitty gritty of this here "healthy" living scam that PepsiCo is trying to pull. They are equating "low-fat" and "low-calorie" with "eating healthy" and that is not necessarily the case. This archaic and extremely subjective view of a healthy diet is what makes the list of products on the "Smart Spot" web site so laughable. Taking away the fat and calories is NOT the way to make them healthier for people. Not by a long shot.

In the end, what does all of this teach us as consumers?

First, you should always question just how good for you that product you are intending to purchase really is no matter what kind of fancy schmancy label it has on it about being "smart" or "healthy." You make the determination of whether it is by reading the ingredients and nutritional label for yourself.

Second, be aware that food and beverage companies like PepsiCo don't give a flying rip about you or your health. Their bottom line is to increase their bottom line, even if it means bamboozling you into thinking their products are a part of your "healthy lifestyle." What a joke! Don't get duped into the marketing lie.

Third and finally, now more than ever you can't rely on the government, businesses or even friends to help educate you on what kinds of foods and beverages you should eat and drink on your low-carb plan. Never stop the learning process and constantly remain on the lookout for trustworthy sources of information that will keep you abreast of all the latest when it comes to healthy products.

As for PepsiCo and their "Smart Spot" campaign, just remember this: IT'S NOT NECESSARILY HOT FOR YOUR HEALTH! No matter what their web site or cute little green logo says, most of those recommended products will destroy your low-carb lifestyle faster than you can say ACHOO! Don't get fooled and make an unwise purchase. Keep your head in the game and don't give in to the temptation to buy something just because it has the "Smart Spot" logo thinking "it's got to be healthy!" WRONG-O!

You can express your disgust with PepsiCo for this shameless "Smart Spot" initiative by using their contact page. We need to let them know how disappointed we are as consumers that they are seemingly purposely trying to pull the wool over the eyes of the American consumer thinking we're all a bunch of idiotic morons who can't think for ourselves when it comes to providing nutritious food for ourselves and our families.

9-12-06 UPDATE: A representative from Smart Spot responded to my concerns about their new program today.


Thank you for contacting us. We are sorry to learn of your disappointment with the Smart Spot(tm) program.

Smart Spot(tm) from PepsiCo is the first-of-its-kind symbol designed to help people identify food and beverage choices that contribute to healthier lifestyles. The Smart Spot logo appears on more than 100 PepsiCo products that meet nutrition criteria based on authoritative statements from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the National Academy of Science that define limits for fat - including saturated and trans fats - sugar and sodium as well as call out products that are naturally nutritious and contribute fiber, vitamins and other important nutrients. The criteria is listed on the website.

The SMART acronym supports a balance of food and activity, consistent with the USDA Food Guide Pyramid guidelines, 2005. Our website also features our involvement in promoting activity by sponsoring playgrounds and working with America on the Move. Feel free to explore:

Please be assured that your point of view has been shared with the appropriate corporate management. We appreciate the opportunity to respond.


Smart Spot Consumer Response

Translation: "We got your message and we don't care what you think about our program." Sigh. Oh well, at least I had my say and they know how at least a portion of the population feels about the Smart Spot scam.

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Blogger Cindy said...

Have you seen the new MacDonald's ad? The little girl playing dress up, them mom says that it's more important to worry about what's in her belly than on it....and the shows mom taking the kid out to lunch at MacD's!!!

All white meat chicken nuggets (fried in fat, no doubt and dipped in a sweet sauce), apple slices (dipped in caramel sauce) and low fat milk! (To me a pre-school child should only get whole milk!). Oh! and for mom? A salad (no meat at all!) with low/no-fat dressing!

This is what is "healthy" in today's world! I can't believe the number of people that critisize my low carb meal as they eat artificial, highly processed low fat meals from the freezer or cabinet!

8/22/2006 11:30 PM  
Blogger BillyHW said...

We live in world that thinks anything that says "low fat" or contains traces of fruit is 'healthy'. And when you mention you're trying a low-carb diet they look at you like you have some sort disease. I feel like everyone around me has been 'snatched' by low-fat pod-people and I'm one of the few people left that the space spores haven't gotten to yet.

What I love about the Atkins diet is that you don't have to pay anyone any money (you can buy the book used for a few dollars), or buy any special 'bars' or any crap like that. You can do the whole thing with just the regular old real stuff you find at the supermarket.

The foundation of the diet is basically: 1. Vegetables (with a few exceptions); 2. Meet + Fish + Eggs; 3. Cheese; 4. Water; 5. Olives + Avocados; With lots more stuff slowly added later.

As regards to Pepsi, I think I'll show them by having another Perrier!

8/23/2006 1:42 AM  
Blogger BillyHW said...

All white meat ya, like the "white" "meat" saves the healthiness of these starchy battered "chicken" nuggets (fried in trans fatty still-hydrogenated vegetable shortening (though not quite as bad as the stuff they used to use when an order of large fries had 8 grams(!) trans fat, no doubt and dipped in a sweet sauce sugar!), apple slices (dipped in caramel sauce more sugar!) and low fat milk 13 more grams of sugars! (To me a pre-school child should only get whole milk!). Oh! and for mom? A salad (no meat at all!) with low/no-fat sugary! dressing!

Reminds me of that Nutella commercial touting the healthiess of that sugar + vegetable oil solution.

8/23/2006 1:55 AM  
Blogger Sandylp said...

Some of my co-workers bring some of those items on the list to work and brag about drinking a healthy drink. Usually they contain an enormous amount of sugar, but no fat, so they think they are healthy! I don't know if people will ever learn. People are always asking me, though, how I'm maintaining my weight loss, and I just say low carb and NO SUGAR!

8/23/2006 11:31 AM  
Blogger teapotsgalore said...

I cannot tell you how much resistance I still encounter when I tell people I eat low-carb. Instant replies of "That's not healthy" or "I thought that was over" are pretty much all I hear. Invariably none of those people has read the book. They all continue to believe that low-carb or Atkins entails eating a stick of butter and a pound of bacon and nothing else. So now, when the office managers bring in donuts and ask why I'm not diggin in, instead of mentioning low-carb and hearing the lecture, I just tell them I have dietary restrictions. Apparently, that makes it okay to not consume mass quantities of carbs :) It's really too bad. Even my son, who watched me lose 50+ pounds on low-carb and keep it off, tells me "it's over, Mom" when I complain about how more people ought to try this lifestyle.

8/23/2006 5:05 PM  
Blogger Newbirth said...

I found the Strawberries and Cream at Walmart today and YUM! I like it! I wanted to get the black cherry french vanilla but was on foot and had other stuff so I could only carry one 12-pack. I think I'll like the strawberry one better anyway.

8/23/2006 11:18 PM  
Blogger Mary said...

I have seen many companies do this for the sake of getting the audience’s attention. And I really admire your concern on this. I am quite informed but also the info shocked me. Nonetheless, with this blog, people will be informed and warned at the same time. Thanks!

10/17/2006 4:48 AM  

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