"Fuel your body...Delight your senses"
Stephanie Brina-Herres, MS, RD, CDN
Stephanie is an American Heart Association award winning Registered Dietitian (RD) and NY State credentialed Certified Dietitian-Nutritionist (CDN).
With solid expertise built over more than three decades of practice and spanning six states, Stephanie's background includes being a seasoned clinician, consultant, educator (including full-time professor), presenter, author, researcher, program coordinator, consumer scientist (including recipe developer), advocate, counselor, coach, and mentor.
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2011This is the 2nd blog post as part of a 2 part series we started on Dec 30, 2011 with the initial posting of “Healthy Eating Need Not Be Just a Fairy Tale” (which was Part 1 of 2).
In the USA and elsewhere, many people may be aware that on the BACK of packages, besides ingredient labeling, there is also nutrition facts panel labeling.
What they may not necessarily be aware of, is that additionally, on the FRONT of those same packages there may be some Point-of-Purchase (POP) nutrition labeling approaches being used both at the retail sales level and in some cases at the commercial and institutional food service settings level as well.
Such Front-of-the-Package (FOP) labels are placed with the hope of encouraging people to make on-the-spot purchasing decisions.
Consumers now need to look for nutrition label information on both the FRONT and the BACK of packages before making a buying decision.
The POP food labeling systems typically utilize some sort of either a threshold or scoring system to potentially influence decision making.
Some of these systems use “keys” aka icons, “stars”, “stamps” and more in their ratings.
Our last blog looked at 5 such programs including ANDI, AHA Heart-Check mark, GDA Counter, Guiding Stars, and Healthy Ideas. Today’s post addresses at least 6 more such POP nutrition labeling programs.
One of the professional practice groups one of us belongs to is the Sports, Cardiovascular, and Wellness Nutrition (SCAN) Dietetic Practice Group (DPG) of the American Dietetic Association (which becomes known as the Academy of Dietetics and Nutrition as of Jan 1, 2012).
The following information has been expanded after being adapted from another piece that can be found at the SCAN DPG’s website in their Nutrition Info for Consumers. The original table format piece is called “Point-of-Purchase Food Labeling Systems” compiled by Cheryl Toner, MS, RD. The programs have been organized somewhat alphabetically and arbitrarily assigned numbers sequentially.
The actual sequential number in front of a program description is purely random. We used the same order for the first 10 programs mentioned that Cheryl did for her chart in case you wish to print that chart out and just add some hand-written notes to it.
NOTE: By mentioning any of these programs, you, the reader, are given the option of considering them or not as you see fit and making your own judgement call as to their value to you. Any content on this blog is for infotainment purposes only. Any opinion expressed by the staff are merely jottings as fellow consumers.
All graphic images belong to the respective holder of any Registered Trademark and have been so identified. Hot links within the blog post will take you directly to the program sites for further information, including concerning any program graphics.
Any errors or omissions are totally unintentional and the reader is again reminded that the following only qualifies as infotainment.
6. The Nutrition Keys program was developed in response to a request from First Lady Michelle Obama in the USA in March of 2010. The program uses icons to place information on calories, saturated fat, sodium and total sugars content on the front of product labels. It is sponsored by Members of the Grocery Manufacturers Association and the Food Marketing Institute.
Nutrition Keys launched on Jan 24, 2011. It has three visual presences (6 icons, 4 icons, or 1 icon) and the expanded one with 6 icons focuses on encouraging a threshold level of consumption of potassium, fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin D, calcium, iron, and protein by using nutrition keys icons on the front of some labels. The terminology being used now is just “Facts Up Front.”
All icons are per serving so one needs to check what the product label is stating a “serving” size is and then compare that to the actual amount being consumed.
In the expanded Nutrition Keys icons version with a total of 6 icons, the left 4 icons are for calories, saturated fat, sodium and sugars; while the right two icons are for potassium and fiber.
A second version of nutrition keys discourages the consumption of excess calories, saturated fat, sodium and sugar by the use of four specific icons to that effect.
A third version of nutrition keys is just a single icon and can be used on packages that are small. It only lists the caloric content level per serving.
7. NuVal™ uses a specific scoring system (NuVal® Nutritional Scoring System) which is on a scale of 1-100 with a higher number being a better score and focuses on consumption of fiber, folate, vitamins A, C, D, E, B-12, and B-6, n-3 PUFA, bioflavonoids, carotenoids, potassium, calcium, zinc, magnesium, iron, protein, carbohydrate, and fat quality, while discouraging the consumption of saturated or trans fats, sodium, sugar, and cholesterol.
The NuVal System is based on the Overall Nutritional Quality Index (ONQI™) algorithm overseen by a Scientific Advisory Board (SAB) to NuVal led by founder of NuVal, David L. Katz, MD, MPH, FACPM, FACP. Many of the SAB members had a key role in the initial development of the ONQI™ algorithm that was funded by Griffin Hospital and developed independently of food retailers or manufacturers. More than 90,000 products have received a NuVal score. Food categories that use NuVal Scores include produce, meat, poultry, seafood, beverages, cookies and crackers, frozen foods, breads, soups, oils, and salty snacks, among many others per NuVal.
The NuVal scoring system algorithm in its simplest terms takes a Numerator value (that consider the item’s iron, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Vitamin E, fiber, Magnesium, Zinc, omega 3 fatty acidey, potassium, folate, total carotenoids, calcium, vitamin B12, Vitamin B 6, and total bioflavanoids values as one number) and divides it by a Denominator value (that considers the item’s Trans Fat, Cholesterol, Saturated Fat, Sodium, and Sugar content) and arrives at the NuVal score between 1 – 100.
You can decide for yourself how valuable a NuVal score might be. Each food item is given a score with a higher score being considered better and 100 is equivalent to an optimal score. In the NuVal system, for example, “sweetened applesauce” is given a score of 4, while a whole apple is given a score of 96 in one of their examples. Now we admit to preferring homemade applesauce ourselves, or choosing unsweetened natural applesauce at the store when time is tight as no one really needs added sugars in their applesauce, but would not necessarily rate sweetened applesauce so low for consumers–but that is just us. If we can get children to consume say an applesauce and nice quality lower fat yogurt parfait flavored with a little vanilla and topped with some cinnamon, we admit that we’ll encourage that! Not everyone has fresh apples in their home all of the time.
NuVal scores can be found next to unit pricing labels on shelf tags in various market locations, including Amigos, Bel Air, Big Y, Brookshire’s, City Market, Coborn’s, Copps, Food City, select Giant Eagle, Hy-Vee, Just Save, King Kullen, King Soopers, Kroger, Lowes Foods, Mariano’s Fresh Market, Market District, Market Street, Meijer, select Metro Market, Nob Hill Foods, Pick’nSave, Price Chopper, Price Cutter, Rainbow, Raley’s, Robert, Scolari’s Food and Drug, Skogen’s Festival Foods, Super 1 Foods, Tops, and United Supermarkets.
8. Nutrition iQ® color coded tags use another specific scoring system and focuses on the consumption of fiber, calcium, and protein through the intake of whole grains.
It discourages the consumption of excess sodium, saturated fat, and calories.
Nutrition iQ® was developed by Supervalue in collaboration with an independent panel of dietitians from JOSLIN CLINIC (part of an academic medical center affiliated with Harvard Medical School) and is based on FDA Nutrient Content Claims.
Nutrition iQ® is featured at Albertsons®, bigg’s®, Bristol Farms®, Cub®, Farm Fresh®, Hornbacher’s®, Jewel-Osco®, Shaw’s/Star Market®, Shop ‘n Save® and Shoppers® stores.
9. SimpleNutrition is a program that focuses on calcium, iron, vitamins A and C, iron, protein and fiber through a threshold level of consumption of fruits, vegetables, 100% juice, and whole grains. The program discourages consumption of excess total fat, saturated and trans fats, sodium, sugar, and cholesterol.
Per the Safeway website, “The SimpleNutrition criteria are based on the latest published health guidelines from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA)/US Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and the Institute of Medicine (IOM), and food labeling guidelines from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and USDA, and current available nutrition science.”
The program is featured at Carrs, Genuardi’s, Safeway, Randalls, Tom Thumb, and Vons markets.
10. The Whole Grain Stamp program (two different stamps, “Basic” or “100%”) which focuses on fiber through consumption of a threshold level of Whole Grains servings (3 – 100% Whole Grain; or 6 Basic +/or 100% Whole Grain) and can also be found in conjunction with Food Labels. The “Basic Stamp” level means a food item contains at least 8 grams of whole grain per serving, but may also contain some refined grain as well. IF the serving also contains extra bran, germ, or refined flour, then only the “Basic Stamp” can be used, even if the amount of whole grain in the serving exceeds 8 grams (it could be 3-4 times that and still only the “Basic Stamp” can be used).
16 grams of whole grains/serving is the minimum requirement for a 100% Whole Grain stamp–meaning ALL of the grain is whole grain. Because a product labeled wheat or multigrain doesn’t always mean it was made with the whole grain is in part behind the development of the Whole Grain Stamp program. Some examples of whole grains include barley, brown rice, bulgur wheat, corn, oats, quinoa, rye, wheat, amaranth, buckwheat, millet, and spelt.
Also realize that grams of whole grains does NOT correlate directly with grams of dietary fiber in a food item.
The Whole Grain Stamp program is now being used on over 5,000 food items sold in over 22 countries worldwide.
In consultation with its own Choices International Foundation (Stitchitin Ik Kies Bewust), the company has aimed to produce an overarching healthy living logo in The Netherlands.
They believe their two former “Choice Clover” programs made it easier for customers to choose healthier products within the scope of their “I’m eating better” (Ik eet het beter) program.
That program also encouraged young children to eat a healthy diet and to exercise more per their report.
Initially in 2005, they offered the “Healthy Choice Clover” (Gezonde Keuze Klavertje) program, which raised consumer awareness of skimmed milk, as well as other dairy, produce, bread, vegetables and fruit products which are higher in fiber and also contain little saturated fat, salt, or sugar.
Then in 2009, they starting offering the “Conscious Choice Clover” program (Bewuste Keuze Klavertje), which alerted consumers to make a conscious choice when it comes to say juice and jam products, as well as other items that contain more fiber than comparable products and still less saturated fat, less salt or less sugar, but didn’t meet the requirement of the more stringent “Healthy Choice Clover” (Gezonde Keuze Klavertje) program. That made us wonder if possibly they were having a lot of vendors offering various products to their stores that simply didn’t make the healthier program cut, but tended to sell well.
Come January 2011, the Dutch Government decided there should be only one Healthy “logo” for all products being sold in The Netherlands, so industry collaborated on a project and in March 2011 the new logo was unveiled by the Dutch Government. It comes in two colors: green to be used with healthier choices among common products such as milks, breads, fruits and vegetables; and blue to be used with healthier choices among other items including say sauces, snack foods, soups, etc.
In developing the criteria to be used for determining if a product qualified for the new healthy “logo” per se, the Dutch Guidelines for Food Choice (official version published by The Netherlands Food Centre) was utilized by an independent scientific committee per report.
It is hoped that not only will the criteria and logo help consumers to make wiser POP buying decisions in the grocery store, but that also food manufacturers will take the opportunity to reformulate products to be in greater compliance with the new criteria for future food item offerings to the public that will be lower in saturated fat, lower in salt, and lower in sugar.
In the UK, a color coding system that uses well known traffic light colors of green, amber, and then red. The idea is to help consumers know if the food item has high, medium or low amounts of total fat, saturated fat, sugars and finally salt.
- Red means high amounts (try to eat those foods less often and in small amounts)
- Amber means medium amounts (it is reasonable to eat foods with mostly amber lights most of the time)
- Green means low amounts (these foods are considered to be overall healthier & consumers are urged to consider for purchase items with more green lights more often as part of a balanced diet).
Although there are more POP nutrition label programs worldwide, we hope this smattering has given you an inkling of what some of them are about.
Hopefully this two part series of blog posts has made you more aware of nutrition related information which you may find helpful in future grocery shopping POP decision making.
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