Labels designed to help US shoppers to eat more healthily were today (5 August) officially rolled out across hundreds of products.

Brands ranging from Ragu Italian cooking sauces to Orville Redenbacher's popcorn now have the Smart Choices logo on their labels.

The Smart Choices Program, first launched last autumn, measures products against a set of nutritional criteria, including limits on ingredients like saturated fat and salt, as well as the amount of "nutrients to encourage", including calcium, potassium and fibre.

Products that qualify carry the Smart Choices symbol on packages, which will also carry information about the number of calories per serving and number of servings per container.

Around 500 products made by the likes of Unilever, ConAgra Foods, PepsiCo and Kellogg will use the logo. By May next year, it is hoped that over 1,200 products will carry the label.

""By providing a single, simple communication on the front of the package, the Smart Choices Program can help alleviate confusion in the supermarket and help today's busy shoppers make smarter choices for their families in store and at home," said Eileen Kennedy, Dean of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University.

Unilever said it was "excited and proud" to be taking a "leading role" in the initiative.

"The power of the Smart Choices Program is its basis in collaborative industry development, built on consensus science and its ongoing ability to be flexible and adaptable as nutrition science evolves," said John LeBoutillier, Unilever's senior vice president, Foods US.

Mark Andon, ConAgra's vice president of nutrition, said the label put eliminated the need for multiple labels to be used across the industry. 

"There's a significant amount of research, including our own, that shows the strong linkage between good nutrition and healthful, satisfying lives. But it's not always easy to identify smarter food and beverage choices. The Smart Choices Program symbol can help," Andon said.