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Chains implement nutritional labeling systems to help consumers make healthier choices

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK —In 30 states, at least one-quarter of the adult population is obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. While lack of exercise contributes to the obesity epidemic, so do bad diets. With Americans looking for healthier ways to eat, several supermarket chains have sought to address the issue.

A company based in Braintree, Mass., has stepped in with a ranking system that supermarkets can use to inform customers of their products’ nutritional content. The NuVal System, created as a joint venture between Topco Associates and Griffin Hospital of Derby, Conn., gives each food item a score between 1 and 100, with higher scores indicating higher nutritional content, based on the patent-pending Overall Nutrition Quality Index algorithm. For example, gluten-free twisted pretzels rank at 1, while a head of cauliflower ranks at 100. Two supermarket chains have adopted the system: West Des Moines, Iowa-based Hy-Vee and Schenectady, N.Y.-based Price Chopper. Hy-Vee said it would adopt the NuVal system at its stores in seven Midwestern states, while Price Chopper, operated by Golub Corp., would adopt it at 117 stores in six Northeastern states.

“We have always been committed to making sure that our customers and associates have relevant nutritional information to help them make healthy choices,” Price Chopper president and CEO Neil Golub said. “Over the years, we have shown our commitment with informational outreach via our growing ‘Healthy U’ initiative, offering informational classes and tours, racks of healthy recipes and brochures in-store, our ‘Healthy U Connection’ that connects customers with questions to a professional nutritionist, Web site content and links, and educational [and] informational partnerships like the one with EatingWell magazine that we announced back in November.”

Other chains have adopted similar systems. Supervalu, the Minneapolis-based company that operates such chains such as Albertsons and Jewel-Osco, announced last month that it would implement its Nutrition iQ program at its stores nationwide over the next six months.

Unlike NuVal, which is an independent company, Supervalu developed Nutrition iQ through a collaboration with Joslin Clinic, part of the Harvard Medical School. Nutrition iQ uses the Food and Drug Administration’s Nutrient Content Claims as a framework for determining the nutritional benefits of food items that pass a set of qualifying criteria. While NuVal assigns numeric scores, Nutrition iQ uses a color-coded system, with orange tags for foods rich in fiber, blue for foods rich in calcium, dark orange for whole grains and purple for low caloric content.

“Poor food choices contribute to many health problems, including obesity and heart disease,” Joslin Clinic nutrition services manager Nora Saul said. “We’re pleased to have been able to contribute our nutritional expertise to a program that offers people a way to make healthy eating choices.”

Bashas’ Supermarkets, based in Chandler, Ariz., has launched a program that it developed independently, called Eat Smart. The program includes shelf tags that identify the nutritional benefits of foods, a free newsletter, shopping tours and a contest in which customers can get $500 gift cards for making the best case of why their kitchens need healthy makeovers.

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Rite Aid issues recall of two PCA peanut products

BY Michael Johnsen

CAMP HILL, Pa. Rite Aid on Friday announced the voluntary recall of two of its products containing peanuts that were sold in many Rite Aid stores. The company has been notified by the manufacturer that these products contain peanuts from Peanut Corporation of America, which is the focus of a Food and Drug Administration investigation into potential salmonella contamination of peanut products.

Rite Aid is not aware of any reported cases of illness related to these products, and it has issued this voluntary recall as a precautionary measure.

Rite Aid has already instructed all of its stores to remove Rite Aid Chocolate Peanuts (15 oz., UPC 1182235538) and Rite Aid Bridge Mix (15 oz., UPC 1182237539).

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American Greetings celebrates Black History Month with inspirational cards

BY Melissa Valliant

CLEVELAND American Greetings is recognizing Black History Month with a new Black History Month card collection that includes birthday, encouragement and friendship categories. Words from Pastor T.D. Jakes, as well as inspirational messages from iconic boxer Muhammad Ali, decorate the cards.

The Ebony Inspirations collection also salutes the influence African Americans have had on American history and features African American icons like Halle Berry, Vannessa Williams, Jesse Owens, Ray Charles and B.B. King.

American Greetings cards can be found at participating drug chains, grocery stores and super centers nationwide, as well as in American Greetings and Carlton Cards retail stores.

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