Yet Another Nutrition Labeling System – “Nutrition Guide”

Michigan readers will be happy (?) to learn about a new shelf label system that is being introduced at local retailer D&W Fresh Market stores (part of Spartan Stores). The system, Nutrition Guide, encompasses 16,000 products and was developed inhouse:

The Nutrition Guide identifies six attributes supported by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) nutrient health standards. These attributes include Low Fat, Low Sodium, High Fiber, Gluten Free, Sugar Free and Low Calorie. If a food meets the FDA’s standards for one of these attributes, our team of Registered Dietitians has added a check mark to the shelf tag to help guide you in your food selections.

What you need to know:

We’ve added Nutrition Guide to our growing list of nutrition rating systems. We are wary of retailer or manufacturer sponsored nutrition quick glance tags. The reason, as we’ve stated in the past, is that they cannot, by their nature be objective. With all due respect to the nutrition team, the goal of a supermarket is to sell us MORE, not less. As most supermarket food is highly processed, creating a truly objective system would leave very few products to recommend, thus decreasing sales for the retailer.

We do like the “gluten free” marking that can help celiacs and gluten sensitive shoppers quickly spot foods they require for their diet.

But the so called Heart Healthy option which is low in fat and sodium, may be very high in sugar as a compensation for the fat loss. Is that healthy?

What to do at the supermarket:

By sticking to the store perimeter and buying mostly unprocessed foods, you’ll do best. However, this is difficult and requires a lot of time at home preparing meals. So when you do buy prepared products, skip the shelf and package claims and scores, go straight to the nutrition panel and ingredient list.

Help us test our new food comparison tool: