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A new nutritional seal of approval has just been launched in Israel to help consumers choose healthy alternatives from the supermarket shelves. Sponsored by Choices Israel, the Israeli affiliate of the Choices International Foundation, the seal indicates that a product meets the nutritional standards of the World Health Organization. The program is also an effort to improve the nutritional content of products on sale.

The project's nutritional criteria relate to the presence in products of added sugar, trans fat, saturated fat and sodium. Maximum amounts of each have been set for foods in various product categories. Israel is one of seven countries in which the program is operating. So far, only Shemen Industries, Angel Bakeries and Unilever, have agreed to take part.

Participating companies must pay an annual fee of between NIS 20,000 and NIS 200,000, based on the firm's sales turnover, in addition to NIS 5,000 per product receiving the nutritional seal. Choices Israel's chairman, Ron Gutman, said local firms have not shown eagerness to join the program, but he stressed that the program targets the major health-related problem of obesity.