News

 

Nationwide Removal of Nutritional Scoring System From Grocery Shelves

The National Consumers League (NCL) has welcomed news that a supermarket-based nutritional scoring system of food products called NuVal, which at its peak was used in 1,600 grocery stores nationwide, has been discontinued. For the last five years, NCL has been a vocal critic of NuVal's controversial ratings system. In a letter to the FDA in 2012, NCL called NuVal "fatally flawed," pointed out that it gave some junk foods higher nutritional ratings than canned fruit, and called for its investigation and removal from grocery stores.

NuVal scored food on a scale of 1 to 100, with printed labels appearing on shelves next to price labels in stores that used the system. NuVal claimed to help consumers compare products by simplifying their nutritional value; the higher the number, the "better the nutrition."

"The NuVal rating system was fatally flawed, and its removal from grocery store shelves is a win for consumers," says National Consumers League Executive Director Sally Greenberg. "Its proprietary algorithmic formula—which was not made transparent to consumers or the scientific community—resulted in snack chips, soft drinks, and desserts being given as high or higher nutritional scores than some canned fruits and vegetables. We welcome the news that NuVal has been discontinued nationally."

The consumer group criticized NuVal's nutritional ratings as confusing—not helpful—to consumers trying to make healthful decisions for their families and called on the FDA to step in and set industrywide standards to govern such systems so that they truly benefit nutrition-minded consumers. Other critics questioned conflicts of interest behind NuVal's research and food manufacturers.

The Yale Daily News reported that, according to NuVal's creator, Director of the Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center David Katz, MD, MPH, "Hershey's paid him more than $731,000 for research, and Quaker Oats had paid him more than $633,000. He has also received funds from KIND Bar and Chobani."

Last fall, NCL noted that several regional grocery store chains, including Tops Market, based in Williamsville, New York; California-based Raley's; and Massachusetts-based Big Y had also begun phasing out the system.

— Source: National Consumers League
ADVERTORIAL