Good news for American consumers - a number of big food and beverage companies have agreed to adopt the Smart Choices logo, and it should be on their packaging by the middle of 2009.

The labeling is heralded as a way to help shoppers easily choose healthy products. The Smart Choices logo prominently displays the number of calories per serving, and the number of servings per package. The New York Times explains that having one logo across multiple brands will make life simpler for consumers - and the standards used for Smart Choice are scientifically agreed:

Recognizing the need to create a uniform standard, the food companies began meeting with scientists and retailers in meetings organized by The Keystone Center, a nonprofit organization that tries to create consensus solutions to public health issues. The nutrition standards for the Smart Choices Program are based on the federal government's dietary guidelines and other scientific guidance.

The Smart Choice Program was developed by collaboration between food companies, scientists, academics and retailers. In order to be allowed to carry the logo, a food product must stick to certain standards for nutrients to limit - this includes limits on fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, added sugars and salt.

For most products, they are also required to provide certainly healthy nutrients (such as calcium, potassium and fiber) and healthy food groups (such as fruit and vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy products).