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National Consumers League to FDA: NuVal can mislead consumers

BY Allison Cerra

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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Mike’s Hard Lemonade kicks off summer with new campaign

BY Allison Cerra

CHICAGO — Mike’s Hard Lemonade launched this month a multimillion-dollar campaign that the brand calls "a bold departure from traditional beer category advertising" and includes television, digital, mobile and social media outreach.

Created by the brand’s new advertising agency, Grey New York, the campaign includes a series of television commercials featuring guys interacting at familiar drinking occasions, such as golf and fishing; but while each of the commercials start with the same scene, the spot then will reveal a rotation of four unexpected finales to reinforce that "when guys bring Mike’s to the occasion, they never know how things will turn out," the brand said. The 15- and 30-second spots, which end with the tagline, "Mike’s Hard Lemonade: Always Different, Always Refreshing," currently are airing on television outlets Comedy Central, E!, ESPN, F/X, NBA TV, SPIKE, TBS, Turner Sports, NBC Sports, Fuel and Speed, as well as digital channels, including Hulu, ABC, NBC and Discovery Network.

Additionally, the brand is partnering with LivingSocial in key brand markets to support the campaign. Mike’s Hard Lemonade will serve as the exclusive adult beverage and sponsor for LivingSocial’s Adventures 21+ Memorial Day Weekend Summer Camp in New York; Labor Day Weekend Summer Camps in Washington, D.C., and New York; and one-day Adventures in Seattle, Los Angeles and Chicago, featuring "fun in the sun" activities.

"We wanted to make good on our tagline of being ‘always different and always refreshing’ in this campaign," said Andy Horrow, chief marketing officer of Mike’s Hard Lemonade. "By using multiple refreshing endings, we engage and entertain our target guy and celebrate Mike’s differentness in a way that’s as unexpected and unique as the brand itself."

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Nutrisystem launches line at Kroger

BY Allison Cerra

FORT WASHINGTON, Pa. — A weight management products and services provider is bringing its items to retail.

Nutrisystem announced the retail debut of its Nutrisystem Everyday product line at Kroger. Available in bars, smoothies, bakery and breakfast items, each product delivers low fat and calories, and is a good source of fiber and protein, the company said.

"The expansion into the retail channel is a natural progression given our strong consumer brand and reputation within the weight loss industry," Nutrisystem Everyday SVP and general manager Dianne Jacobs said. "We are very excited to debut our Nutrisystem Everyday products with Kroger. Our goal is to have broad distribution within all retail channels and with retailers who share our mission of bringing additional health and wellness options to consumers. We expect to be fully national by 2013 and we’re receiving an enthusiastic response from the retail community who now has the opportunity to offer the Nutrisystem brand with the Nutrisystem Everyday line."

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