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Nov 18, 2011 6:29 PM by Andy Koen

The NuVal Numbers testing the supermarket food scores

Take a close look at the price tag during your next trip to the grocery store and you may notice another number. It's a nutrition tag called NuVal and, for now, you'll only find them at King Soopers.

The score is a single number between 1 and 100 that is calculated by using the information listed on the Nutrition Facts panel. The higher the number, the more nutritious the food.

"It's really about health matters and what we've heard from our customers is that health is very important to them and they want nutrition made easy," explains King Soopers spokeswoman Kelli McGannon.

The scoring system is part of a new trend within the supermarket industry. King Soopers and City Market began using the system on October 1 and are the first chains within the Kroger corporation to use them. McGannon thinks that choice has to do with the demographics of our state.

"It's really a part of the Colorado lifestyle," McGannon says. Health is very important to them, they're healthy, they're outdoors-ie they want to make healthy choices."

Local dietitian Martha Rosenau of Peak Nutrition has been following the trend and says NuVal is the most widely used.

"There originally were others out there but this one kind of took precedence in terms of how much better it was," Rosenau said.

NuVal LLC was started in 2008 by a partnership between the food company Topco and the Griffin Hospital of Derby, Connecticut. Rosenau says the third party nature of the scores makes them more trustworthy to consumers.

"NuVal was developed by the medical and nutrition professionals,' Rosenau said. "So, instead of it being developed by food manufactures or retailers, it was actually developed by people we can respect."

It's no surprise that fresh fruits and vegetables score the highest. What is surprising is how greatly the scores differ on just about everything else.

For example, on the cereal aisle Cheerios score in the high 30's while Post Shredded Wheat scores in the low 90's. Yoplait yogurt is a 32 when Oikos Greek yogurt is a 94. The scores also vary within brands. Nacho Cheese Doritos score a nine compared to Salsa Verde Doritos which score 20.

McGannon says it is unlikely that there will be perfect score for every food item on your list. She recommends using the summary tag on each aisle to compare the high, low and average scores of the foods in that category.

"For me and my family, are we still going to enjoy ice cream? Absolutely," McGannon explains. "It might help me in that category find the ice cream that's better for us than another."

The NuVal scores are just one part of a health and nutrition makeover at happening at King Soopers. The chain is also bringing dietitians to the stores on a regular basis to provide shoppers with input. They have also installed biometric screening devices that measure weight, body mass index and blood pressure.

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