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BOSTON -- The new Med Mark packaging symbol, designed to help consumers quickly identify food, drinks and products that support the much-touted Mediterranean diet, which includes such staples as wine, olive oil, pasta, and tomatoes, has been introduced by nonprofit organization Oldways here as the third element in its consumer shopping assistance program.
The postage-stamp-sized symbol depicts an amphora, a pottery jug used for millennia by all Mediterranean cultures to store and ship their foods and beverages.
In 2003, Oldways formed the Whole Grains Council and brought out the Whole Grain Stamp to help shoppers locate whole grains. The stamp now appears on over 1,200 whole grain products. Additionally, the organization's Latino Nutrition Coalition recently issued "Camino Magico" ("Magic Road"), a pocket-sized brochure that helps Hispanics shop for healthier foods.
"Through the years, our experience confirms that consumers respond to messages that simplify shopping and clear the clutter of competing and confusing nutritional information," noted Oldways president Dun Gifford in a statement. "The Mediterranean diet is backed by strong science and terrific flavors, and now with the Med Mark, consumers can easily find these health-promoting products."
Manufacturers with food and drink products conforming to standards derived from the "well-accepted definition of the traditional healthy Mediterranean diet" will be able to apply to license the stamp for their packaging, according to Oldways.
In 1993 the organization, together with colleagues from the Harvard School of Public Health and the World Health Organization, created the Mediterranean Diet Pyramid. Since that time, research has linked the diet to a reduced risk of lung disease and Alzheimer's disease, as well as to protection against allergies and asthma.