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Going The Extra Calorie

Great story in today's New York Times about Hannaford Brothers, a New England-based grocery chain, doing their own nutritional ratings for more than 27,000 grocery items, giving them a straightforward zero to three-star rating based on its healthiness. The ratings are posted next to the items throughout the store. They exceed the FDA's standards, and a number of major food conglomerates, promoting "healthy alternatives," don't score all that high.

The story is chock-a-block with great defensive quotes such as this one:

"We don’t like the idea that there are good and bad foods out there, and these sort of arbitrary rating systems," said John Faulkner, director of brand communication at the Campbell Soup Company. The Healthy Request line of soup, he said, was "aligned with the government definition of what healthy is."

Check this out not only to think about whether your healthy eats are as healthy as the box says they are, but also to consider what you can do in your business that goes beyond the minimum. In a highly competitive grocery market, where margins are thin, this is a bold and risky move by Hannaford. Kudos to them.

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  • removed removed

    Is it an over-simplification? Certainly. After all, whether or not a particular food is good for you depends greatly on your own nutritional needs and your overall diet.


    1 - You can certainly help the majority of people by making sure they know when a food item tends to be unhealthy for the typical North American profile. For example, the typical North American gets all the vitamin C they need, but consumes too much fat and simple carbohydrates.

    2 - Some foods simply ARE less healthy than others, no matter how you slice it. An organically-grown banana would be 3 stars in my book, and a twinkie would be 1 star. That's easy to determine. It would just be a little harder to decide what gets 2 stars. The ones most likely to complain are precisely those who claim to offer healthy food but don't. Not an easy problem, but far from intractable.

  • removed removed

    You can not summarize whether a particular food item is good or bad for you based on a 3 star rating. That's an over simplification of a complicated issue.