National Consumers League to FDA: NuVal can mislead consumers

Urges agency to review system

WASHINGTON — A consumer group is urging the Food and Drug Administration to review a proprietary point-of-purchase nutrition rating system that it said is "inconsistent with FDA guidance statements and enforcement correspondence, federal nutrition programs and recommendations from the Institute of Medicine."

In a letter sent to FDA commissioner Margaret Hamburg, the National Consumers League told the government agency that such products as snack chips and frozen dessert concoctions receive a higher rating than canned fruit. Canned fruit, NCL said, is considered a "fruit" under the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National School Lunch Program regulations. What's more, NCL said, NuVal's proprietary algorithm should be brought into question because it violates the second phase of an IOM report that states that all nutrition rating systems should be based on nonproprietary algorithms that can be fully evaluated by the scientific community. "Given the inconsistent scores awarded to various foods [under the NuVal system], NuVal's proprietary algorithm be open to scrutiny," NCL said.

NuVal is a joint venture formed in 2008 by Topco Associates and Griffin Hospital of Derby, Conn., a nonprofit community hospital. It debuted in major U.S. retail chains in 2008 and since has been implemented at such stores as Kroger, Meijer, Price Chopper, Hy-Vee, Giant Eagle and King Kullen, among others.

"The stark shortcomings of NuVal underscore the need for FDA to promptly notify grocery store and supermarket chains, warning retailers against the use of propriety nutrition rating systems that are in conflict with FDA's guidance statement, enforcement letter, federal nutrition programs and recommendations of the IOM," NCL said.

Click here to view the letter.

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