US grocer Meijer is to use the NuVal nutritional scoring system to calculate and summarise a product’s nutritional information in a single score.

NuVal will be launched this week in Meijer stores, and will see grocery shelves sporting small tags that reveal a calculated nutritional value score ranging from 1-100 for an individual product. A product with a 100 rating will be the “most nutritious”, the company said yesterday (4 May).

Initially, some 8,000 products from 15 different food categories will have a NuVal score, a system in use by a handful of major grocery chains across the country.

“This simple scoring system provides our customers with the information they need to make well-informed nutritional choices, one food at a time,” said Ralph Fischer, group vice president of foods for Meijer. “There is so much confusion when it comes to nutrition information, and that’s why we felt it was imperative to provide our shoppers with unbiased and simple information to help them make the most informed choices.”

NuVal takes into account “more than 30 distinct factors”, Meijer said, and evaluates the dietary importance of each to determine an overall nutritional quality score.

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For example, in the seafood category, an Atlantic salmon fillet receives a score of 87, while Chinook salmon receives only a 56. In produce, oranges receive a perfect score of 100, while iceberg lettuce scores 82. In the salty snacks category, the highest score received is a 40, and the lowest is a 1.

“Our goal was to create an algorithm for assessing the overall nutritional quality of foods that entirely avoids the ‘good food/bad food’ dichotomy and controversy,” said NuVal president Nancy McDermott.

Scores are calculated through a formula that takes into account a product’s numerators (eg, the presence of fibre, vitamins, calcium, magnesium) and denominators (saturated fat, trans fat, sodium, sugar and cholesterol.)

Meijer said it will continue to increase the number of products carrying a NuVal score during the next few months.