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Frito-Lay to Promote Its Healthier Snacks

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Aug. 6--Frito-Lay Inc., the world's biggest producer of snack foods, has joined with a Dallas health and fitness guru to promote some of its products as healthy.

The Plano-based company said Tuesday that it's introducing an on-package icon identifying some products as smart snacks. The yellow, green and pink label contains the words "Great Taste, Smart Snack" as well as information on fats and cholesterol.

To determine which products warrant the label, Frito-Lay turned to Dr. Kenneth Cooper, founder of Dallas' Cooper Aerobics Center, for guidelines.

"The key to healthy snacking is found in the foods you choose, the size of your portions and how frequently you snack," Dr. Cooper said. "It's great to see a leading company like Frito-Lay making it easier for people to make smart snack choices."

Frito-Lay's baked line of Lay's, Doritos and Ruffles are the first snacks to get the label. It will be added to other products in coming months, the company said.

"I do think that's a positive step," said Anthony Zolezzi, author of Chemical-Free Kids, a book on children's nutrition. "It's a company stepping up and saying what's in their products."

Dr. Cooper's guidelines for a one-ounce serving include: 150 calories or less, less than 35 percent of calories from fat (usually 5 grams or less), less than 7 percent of calories from saturated fat (usually 1 gram or less), zero grams of trans-fats and 240 milligrams of sodium or less.

"This new label will serve as a guide for people who are looking for clear direction on the most healthful snack options," said Tracy LaRosiliere, vice president of marketing for sensible snacks.

Frito-Lay is a division of PepsiCo Inc., based in Purchase, N.Y.

It had revenue of $8.2 billion in 2002.

Concern about child obesity and other health issues has put pressure on Frito-Lay, McDonald's Corp. and other companies that market to children. Some activists propose suing offending food companies. Others are pressuring them to produce healthier foods and give parents more nutritional information.

As a result, Frito-Lay and other food companies are looking for ways to make and market so-called better-for-you products.

Frito-Lay had already said it would eliminate partially hydrogenated cooking oils from its Doritos, Tostitos and Cheetos brands, making them and the Lay's and Ruffles potato chip brands free of trans-fat oils.

Kraft Foods Inc., maker of Oreo cookies and Oscar Mayer meats, vowed last month to reduce sugar, fat and calories in most of its products and shrink single-serving portions.

"The challenge for food companies in the next few years will be to develop products that appeal to the fast-food generation but support and maintain a much healthier lifestyle," said Mr. Zolezzi.


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(c) 2003, The Dallas Morning News. Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News.

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