CSPI Calls Walmart’s New “Great for You” Labeling Program “Interesting”

February 27, 2012

While commending Walmart for guiding shoppers toward healthier choices, CSPI questioned whether FDA should develop one unified labeling system instead.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI; Washington, DC) has commented on Walmart’s new Great for You Labeling program, which the retailer says it will use to indicate healthier Walmart items, including some of its Great Value and Marketside items and fresh and packaged fruits and vegetables.

Walmart says that items carrying the Great for You icon must meet rigorous nutrition criteria “informed” by the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Moreover, the retailer says that the icon will also be made available for use to national brand products that meet the Great for You standards and that “can be complementary to other nutrition labeling systems being used by the food industry.” Walmart will begin using the icon this spring.

While commending Walmart for guiding shoppers toward healthier choices, CSPI executive director Michael F. Jacobson questioned whether FDA should develop one unified labeling system to take the place of the numerous labeling systems individual retailers have developed.

“Walmart's Great For You labeling program is an interesting way to identify many healthier foods. The symbol should help many shoppers choose healthier foods and should encourage some companies, starting with Walmart, to improve their products.  

Great For You joins NuVal, Guiding Stars, Facts Up Front, Heart Check, and other approaches that seek to steer consumers toward healthier diets. That proliferation of sometimes-inconsistent nutrition symbols on store shelves and packages indicates the need for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to develop one excellent system that would replace all the voluntary approaches.

Walmart’s program does an excellent job of highlighting healthful foods in many food categories, but it is not foolproof. Some distinctly not-great-for-you foods qualify for the symbol: cholesterol-rich eggs, salty canned vegetables and salt-water-injected fresh meat and poultry, nutrient-poor apple and grape juice, and grain foods that contain much more refined white flour than whole grain.”

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