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Published: Saturday, 9/18/2010

Meijer offers grades for nutrition of its products

COLUMBUS DISPATCH

The next time you reach for a box of cereal in a Meijer Inc. grocery aisle, take note of the tag next to it on the shelf. Not only does it list the price, it also says whether the product makes the grade nutritionally.

The Grand Rapids, Mich.-based grocery chain is rolling out a nutritional-scoring system that rates items from 1, signaling little value, to 100.

Called NuVal, it takes into account more than 30 nutrients and other factors including fiber, trans fats, sugar, and fat, sodium, and vitamin content.

It was developed by nutrition and public-health experts, the grocery chain said.

Meijer is among a small but growing group of grocery retailers that have adopted the NuVal food scoring system. Others include Hy-Vee, which has stores in the Midwest, and Price Chopper, with stores on the East Coast. Grocers pay a licensing fee to Massachusetts-based NuVal.

Kroger Co. is testing NuVal in its Kentucky stores, spokesman Amy McCormick said. The company has not decided on expansion of the program.

A spokesman for Giant Eagle Inc. said that firm is is evaluating the NuVal system.

Efforts such as these take on a more significant role as the Food and Drug Administration moves to extend food calorie-count postings beyond large chain restaurants to places such as grocery-store food courts.

Frank J. Guglielmi, a Meijer spokesman, said, “From our perspective, it's about innovation and bringing more choice to our customers. We were the first large grocery retailer to do it because it makes shopping easier and better.”

The program was begun on a portion of Meijer's products in spring, 2009; the chain increased the number of foods that were given scores in April and plans to have the entire complement of grocery items scored by the end of the year, Mr. Guglielmi said.

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Meijer tags let shoppers know nutritional value at a glance Columbus Dispatch



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