Thursday, June 17, 2010

Shoppers Nutrition IQ Program

Several weeks ago, I was invited by Shoppers Food Warehouse to a blogger event to learn about their new Nutrition IQ Program.  It sounded like something that I and my savvy grocery shopping readers would find interesting, so I went to check it out.

Basically, Shoppers' Nutrition IQ program is a labeling system for the tags on their shelves.  Healthier grocery products receive a program tag, which highlights up to two outstanding nutrients that the product contains.

The nutrition labels were developed using the FDA Nutrient Content Claims, as well as in partnership with the Joslin Clinic (affiliated with Harvard medical school). 

The things I liked best about this program are twofold.  First of all, I liked that not all products are given a Nutrition IQ label.   The products that do receive the label have to meet a minimum standard, including having limited levels of sodium, saturated fat, and in some categories, sugar.  I think this is important because then you can have an idea that the IQ label is pointing out an actually somewhat healthy food.  Otherwise, you might have ice cream, for instance, singled out for its calcium, but we all know that ice cream is hardly a health food!

Secondly, I liked that that labels are primarily for packaged grocery products, the products you find in the middle aisles of the store.  I think this is very useful, since we all already have a good idea of the nutritional value of apples or cheese.  It's items like canned soup and cereals that can be harder to navigate, and I think this program could be a help with that.  When we were going around the store checking out the labels, we found several suprises as regards what items were more and less healthy.  For instance, I believe that Cinnamon Toast Crunch received a label, while some brands of Raisin Bran did not.

The main downside I noticed to the program is simply the question of whether the labels would be noticeable to the average shopper.  Especially in some aisles, I felt they were too small and could easily be passed over.  Also, you might need to know something about the program to actually find it useful.

Overall, I think the Nutrition IQ program has the potentional to be a helpful too, and I plan to keep an eye out for the labels when I'm at Shoppers.

Have any of you who go to Shoppers noticed these lables?  Have you found anything similar at other grocery stores?

Disclosure: Although I did not know this before I went, Shoppers gave the all the bloggers attending the event a gift card and a bag of healthy grocery products, to thank them for taking the time to attend.  However, the opinions about their program are entirely my own.

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