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Bashas', Supervalu Show Their Colors

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We spotted the nutrition labeling system trend more than a year ago, and now it appears that it’s in full swing. Last week both Bashas’ and Supervalu added their names to the growing list of supermarkets illuminating healthy choices at the shelf level.

Unlike scoring systems like Hannaford’s Guiding Stars or Topco’s NuVal program, which rate every item in the store based on nutritional quality, Bashas’ and Supervalu will highlight only healthy foods using a color-coded system corresponding to categories like low sodium, excellent source of calcium, high in fiber, and so on.

colorlabels.jpgIt’s more promotion than science, really. That’s not a bad thing, since playing up healthy foods should increase the sales of healthy foods, thus helping people, well, stay healthy. And the way the labeling system hones in on specific nutrients and benefits plays well to our specialized approach to health. If you’re at risk for heart disease, you’ll certainly be looking for the green shelf tags in Supervalu stores that indicate low-sodium products.

But there are lingering questions. One, can consumers trust the science behind these labeling systems? And two, how confusing might all these competing systems get? Supermarkets are in the business of selling food, and so it’s not hard to imagine that some labeling programs would cast a wide, subjective net around what’s “healthy.”

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