Rating system will help consumers pick nutrient-rich food

By staff reporter

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Nutrition

The use of independent nutrition rating systems being rolled out in
scores of US grocery stores has been welcomed by the industry.

Both the Index of Nutritional Quality (INQ) and the Overall Nutritional Quality Index (ONQI) have been applauded by the Walnut Commission, as it will help reveal the good health benefits of the omega-3 rich nuts. The tests could also help communicate the benefits of other nutrient-rich foods to consumers. Walnuts ​ Dennis Balint, chief executive of the California Walnut Commission, said the two systems will help consumers make healthy food choices. He said: "We think the consumer will understand that all of this adds up to high marks and better guidance when choosing a nutritious diet.​" Balint said the different systems in play would not be confusing, but instead welcomed by shoppers. He said: "Our research says that people want more information, presented in a simple, easy-to-use format."​ Walnuts are a rich source of alpha linoleic acid (ALA) and are also high in antioxidants. Efforts in the US to introduce nutrient labeling have been largely voluntarily, but these systems have been praised because they look at overall nutritional benefits and nutritional density. They then give consumers an easy-to-understand rating for the food. Both systems would give a walnut a good mark, which in turn could lead to more sales for walnut firms. Tests ​The ONQI system was developed by a group of nutrition and health experts, led by David Katz, chairman of the Yale Prevention Research Center. ONQI takes into account a number of factors in assigning a score of 1 to 100 for each food, including negatives like the amount of saturated fat, sugar and cholesterol in a food, and positives like fiber, nutrients, omega 3 fatty acids and the quality of the proteins. The ONQI system will be introduced to grocery stores across the US in 2008 by Topco Associates LLC. Topco own about 13,000 stores. Under the rating walnuts score 82, broccoli, strawberries and spinach score 100, while pretzel sticks score just 9. Another system being used is Guiding Stars, developed by Hannaford Bros grocery chain, which will be applied in Sweetbay Supermarkets.

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