Wal-Mart is debuting its new green and white seal placed on foods that are “great for you.” Wal-Mart has placed these seals on packaged fruit and vegetables, along with their in-house products that contain “lower levels of fat, sugar and artificial additives.” Their motivation behind implementing this new seal is to help consumers easily see healthier choices that are available to them.
Why is Wal-Mart taking on this initiative? A direct result of First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move Campaign. This past January, the First Lady met with Wal-Mart executives to help launch their “Nutrition Charter” which seeks to help families access affordable and healthy foods. The Nutrition Charter is based on the following three pillars:
- Reformulate products to improve nutrition by 2015.
- Make healthy food more affordable.
- Empower consumers to make informed choices by implementing a healthy seal.
We think that Wal-Mart has the right idea by directing consumers to foods that are less processed, helping lead them to make better decisions. On the other hand, Dr. David Katz, Director of the Yale Prevention Research Center, and Founder of NuVal – a food labeling system developed in 2008, raises concerns that the “great for you” seal generalizes food too simply into two categories: good or bad. For example, the system may reward the seal to products like walnuts and iceberg lettuce, but does not reward the seal on lightly sweetened green tea or butter. If consumers only follow the seal, they miss out on incorporating key nutrients into their diets, and would have a more narrow view on what foods are good or bad for you. Then there is the question and issue of objective labeling..
Our quick tip for the next time you go grocery shopping anywhere, is to read the ingredient list. It is generally best to stick with foods with ingredients that you can both recognize and source easily in your mind, and that you can pronounce.
Want to know what products are being rewarded the Wal-Mart seal? click here.
Interested in learning about the history of food labeling? Check out this blog.
Photo courtesy of planetforward.ca