Several major food processing companies are pledging to use a standardized “check mark” logo on the front of their packaging to alert consumers that the product inside meets nutritional standards.

The Smart Choices Program will allow companies to apply for the right to use a simple green check mark with the words “Smart Choices Program, Guiding Food Choices.” Products with this logo also will include calories per serving and servings per container on the front of the package.

The program is being coordinated by the Keystone Center, a public-policy institution based in Colorado. Several major food companies have stated that they are likely to implement the program, including Coca-Cola, ConAgra Foods, General Mills, Kellogg Co., Kraft Foods, PepsiCo, Unilever and Wal-Mart. General Mills has announced that it will put the logo on products including cereals, yogurt, snacks, vegetables and soup, beginning in 2009.

The criteria for inclusion in the Smart Choices Program include standards for “nutrients to limit,” such as total fat, saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, added sugars and sodium. In most categories, the product must also have one or more “nutrients to encourage,” such as calcium, potassium, fiber, magnesium and vitamins A, C and E. A third party, yet to be decided, will be hired by the Smart Choices Plenary to administer and monitor the program.