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First U.S. Supermarkets Launch Total Nutrition Scoring System
Date:1/27/2009

In a world of nutrition confusion, NuVal scores all foods to help consumers take charge of health

BRAINTREE, Mass., Jan. 27 /PRNewswire/ -- As changes in leadership and social attitudes herald a new era of personal responsibility in the U.S., the nation's nutrition experts are urging consumers to take individual action in reversing the alarming trends of obesity, diabetes and heart disease. Still, as more and more Americans look to take charge of their diets and overall health, they often are left confused and frustrated by an overwhelming array of food information and advertising claims. Well-intentioned consumers leave supermarkets with more questions on food nutrition than ever. But now, they'll start getting answers.

Price Chopper and Hy-Vee, two major supermarket chains located In the Northeast and the Midwest, respectively, are the first in the U.S. to feature the NuVal(TM) Nutritional Scoring System, a revolutionary program that distills complicated nutrition information into a single number.

Developed over a two-year period by Dr. David L. Katz, director of the Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center in Connecticut and a 12-member team of leading nutrition experts , NuVal's scoring system gives all food a Score between 1 to 100; the higher the score, the higher the nutrition. Ultimately, NuVal will guide U.S. consumers in every single food purchase in the grocery store. It is a move to create what Dr. Katz and others believe should be a 'universal standard' for nutrition knowledge.

Using the NuVal system, consumers will:

  • Easily discover the more nutritious products in a store. Consumers wanting to know what cereals (or crackers or cookies) have more nutrition only need to take a look at the NuVal scores and choose the higher number.
  • Be able to "act like an expert," using the knowledge and research of more than a dozen of the country's best nutrition experts, who spent two years creating the ONQI (Overall Nutritional Quality Index), the scientific engine used to determine NuVal scores.
  • Get more nutrition for their budget, as they can now compare items side-to-side and determine which product offers the better value, not just in price, but in nutrition as well. For instance, consumers may find that some varieties of frozen or canned vegetables score the same as fresh produce on the NuVal scale.
  • Be able to better compare name brand to store brand products. In many instances, consumers will learn that a store's private label item is just as nutritious as the more expensive national one.
  • Receive reliable, robust nutrition information, as all NuVal scores are determined from the data on a product's nutrition and ingredient labels.

"Dietary pattern is one of the true pillars of lifelong health, but as people attempt to eat healthier, they are confronted with food packaging and labels that are simply not enough to help them choose wisely. We must empower them to do so," said Dr. Katz. "That means objective, expert, at-a-glance guidance, a GPS system for the modern food supply."

In the past, several programs and initiatives have tried to guide consumers through the grocery aisles to healthier choices. But their icons and color-coded methods have been limited. Helping consumers eat more nutritiously requires a program that covers all foods, not only select items in certain categories in a limited number of stores. NuVal ranks all foods, giving consumers a more comprehensive idea on the nutritional value of all the products in their shopping cart.

"With NuVal, consumers can now receive reliable, easy-to-understand information on the food they buy at the best possible place and time--in the grocery aisle," said Dr. Katz. "These scores are based on the fundamentals of good nutrition and can be invaluable in eating healthier."

NuVal Scores can be found on the shelf tags at all 116 Price Chopper and 225 Hy-Vee supermarkets, with more grocery chains to come in 2009. Visitors to the NuVal website (www.nuval.com) can find sample scores in a variety of categories, such as cereal, salty snacks, crackers, pasta, and canned and frozen vegetables.

NuVal LLC President Nancy McDermott said that many scores will reinforce consumers' common knowledge, such as fresh food ranking higher than processed food, and fruits and vegetables receiving the highest scores. However, she pointed out that consumers will soon see NuVal Scores as an invaluable shopping aid.

"We're witnessing a whole new way of looking at what we eat," McDermott said. "As foods become more 'specialized' in addressing certain health concerns, it can sometimes be more challenging to find foods that are more nutritious overall. If a product is lower in fat but higher in sodium, is it more nutritious overall? Is it OK to choose one product over another if has fewer calories but also less fiber? With NuVal, consumers will find a clear, scientifically-backed system that will tell them how much nutrition a food has with a single number."

Using NuVal, consumers can easily find more nutritious alternatives in any category, whether it is cereal (Post Shredded Wheat, NuVal Score 91), seafood (Atlantic salmon, NuVal Score 87), or even cookies (Healthy Valley Oatmeal Raisin Cookies, NuVal Score 34).

NuVal can help keep consumers in their budget, as the system can identify which canned or frozen vegetables retain their overall nutrition. For instance, several varieties of Birds Eye frozen vegetables, such as cauliflower, chopped spinach and sugar snap peas received NuVal Scores of 100, the highest possible Score. Del Monte canned green beans (with no salt added) also received a Score of 100.

"When the method of preservation doesn't involve adding salt or other additives, their nutrient value remained the same as the fresh variety," Dr. Katz said. "The number of high-scoring canned vegetables is good news for family food budgets, as canned vegetables often are less expensive than fresh or frozen."

More About the NuVal System

The NuVal Nutritional Scoring System is powered by the Overall Nutritional Quality Index (ONQI(TM)), a patent-pending algorithm for measuring the nutritional quality of foods and beverages. Developed by an independent team of top nutrition and public health experts, the NuVal System scores foods and beverages based on more than 30 different nutrients and nutrition factors -- everything from fiber and vitamins to fat and sodium.

"For decades, we've been conditioned to purchase foods based on only one or two factors, such as calories, fat, or carbs, without looking at the nutritional quality of the foods as a whole," Dr. Katz said. "With NuVal, all nutrients -- those with generally positive and negative effects on health -- are factored into our scores, so you can identify, at a glance, the items with higher overall nutritional value."

NuVal Scores can be found in participating grocery stores, where they are posted on shelf tags next to the product price and on in-store signage. In addition to Price Chopper and Hy-Vee, more leading U.S. retail chains will introduce the system to their customers in 2009. The ONQI algorithm was created independent of financing and influence from food and beverage manufacturers. Retailers interested in learning more about the NuVal System can contact NuVal LLC at partners@NuVal.com or (781) 228-5800.

About NuVal:

Located in Braintree, MA, NuVal licenses its proprietary food scoring system, which is based on ONQI (Overall Nutrition Quality Index) science to food retailers across the country. NuVal is a joint venture formed in 2008 by Topco Associates, LLC, and Griffin Hospital of Derby, Conn., a non-profit community hospital and home to the Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center.


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SOURCE NuVal
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