Mars Food Brand—which produces some of the most ubiquitous products in the grocery store, like Uncle Ben’s rice—wants you, the consumer to know that some of its products should only be eaten on an “occasional” basis.
The company recently announced a global initiative to “create and promote healthier food choices,” specifically by labeling foods that are too high in sugar and salt and are generally too unhealthy to be consumed on a daily basis. It explains in a statement:
“Mars Food will help consumers differentiate and choose between ‘everyday’ and ‘occasional’ options. To maintain the authentic nature of the recipe, some Mars Food products are higher in salt, added sugar, or fat. As these products are not intended to be eaten daily, Mars Food will provide guidance to consumers on-pack and on its website regarding how often these meal offerings should be consumed within a balanced diet. The Mars Food website will be updated within the next few months with a list of ‘occasional’ products—those to be enjoyed once per week—and a list of ‘everyday’ products—including those to be reformulated over the next five years to reduce sodium, sugar, or fat.”
The UK’s National Obesity Forum, which focuses on cutting down on Britain’s obesity rates and encouraging a healthy lifestyle through the nation, called the change in branding “hugely unusual” but “very imaginative.” We have to agree — companies that yield to public pressure to make products that are less terrible for your health usually do so by wildly obvious attempts that immediately go south. Remember when McDonald’s tried to make a salad and it turned out to be worse for you than a Big Mac? And let’s not forget all the companies slapping the word “all natural” onto the front of a box, which ultimately means very, very little.
Mars Food’s decision to call out its own products for what they are is definitely a step in the right direction. It’s also a good reminder to take a step back from the processed foods in your life; while we are all for allowing yourself a treat when you want it and eating what makes you feel good, don’t confuse a commercial’s vision of how good soda is for the world with how good it is for you.
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