Grocery chains adopt healthy food ratings

Jan. 11, 2012 at 12:12 AM

NEW YORK, Jan. 10 (UPI) -- A growing number of U.S. supermarkets are contracting with food ratings firms to assist in evaluating and ranking food for nutritional content, officials say.

NuVal and Guiding Stars license their scoring systems to more than 3,000 U.S. grocery stores, USA Today reported. Guiding Stars uses three stars, and NuVal uses a 100-point system, to indicate which foods are healthiest.

The Institute of Medicine -- a non-profit in Washington that advocates for improved public health -- recommended in October that the federal government develop a nutrition rating system involving calories, saturated and trans fats, sugar and sodium amounts on the front label.

Marion Nestle, a professor of nutrition and food studies at New York University who runs the Web site Foodpolitics.com, said the effort involved in determining which potato chip is "slightly better for you" than another is a waste, when people could be dissuaded from buying less "food products" and eating more real food for health.

Others have said it is unrealistic to think people will be persuaded to eat fewer potato chips and more fresh fruit and vegetables.

Nonetheless, Ruth Comer, a spokeswoman for the Skopje, Macedonia, chain Hy-Vee, told USA Today the ratings system is just one method the chain uses to promote healthy lifestyles. For example, the chain also employs dietitians and chefs who hold classes on healthy cooking.

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