Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Published correction produces more info re: Big Y Supermarkets dropping nutrition rating system developed by high-profile scientists -- and a question about buggy whips


Via a September 12 Yale Daily News article by reporter David Yaffe-Bellany (which picked up where my May 23 blog left off):
[New England supermarket chain] Big Y adopted NuVal, a service that assigns numerical scores to food products based on their nutritional value, six years ago as part of an effort to promote healthy eating habits. But last April the chain dropped NuVal because of concerns that its ratings algorithm was out of date.

...Claire D’Amour-Daley, chief communications officer for Big Y, told the News that the chain dropped NuVal because the algorithm is out of date and customers are increasingly able to make savvy nutritional decisions on their own.
Last week I came across Coming to a Grocery Store Near You: The NuVal System, a September 22, 2016 article by Elaine M. Hinzey, RD, LDN published by, described in a a 2014 press release as "a vibrant news source and clinical resource center designed for healthcare professionals who integrate diet and nutrition into patient consultations."

Ms. Hinzey's article included this:

Based on Yaffe-Bellany's article, that appeared to be an error so I e-mailed the Yale story to Nutrition411 and also shared this screen shot from the website of NuVal LLC, based in Quincy, Massachusetts:

The next day I received this e-mail from an editor:
I have looked into this and consulted with...(an) expert on the Nutrition411 editorial board...I have decided to add an asterisk next to Big Y with the caveat that “Big Y will no longer utilize NuVal after the end of 2016.” (According to sources), “Big Y is stepping away from NuVal and has started to phase it out. The process did begin several months back. However their NuVal licensing contract runs through the end of the year which is why their logo still appears on the NuVal website.” I also included a link in the references to the Yale article if people want more information.
If you want to check out the updated version of the article, you can go to
Here are the updates:

Why is this interesting and/or newsworthy?

Per my September 13 item, a decade ago these experts -- some of the best-known names in nutrition science -- developed the algorithm that's the basis for the NuVal system:

Chair: Dr. David Katz, Yale University School of Medicine
Dr. Keith Ayoob, Albert Einstein College of Medicine
Dr. Leonard Epstein, University of Buffalo; inventor, Traffic Light Diet
Dr. David Jenkins, University of Toronto; inventor, Glycemic Index
Dr. Francine Kaufman, USC; Former President, American Diabetes Association
Dr. Robert Kushner, Northwestern University
Dr. Ronald Prior, Arkansas Children’s Nutrition Center, USDA HNRC
Dr. Rebecca Reeves, Past President, American Dietetic Association
Dr. Barbara Rolls, Pennsylvania State University
Dr. Sachiko St. Jeor, University of Nevada
Dr. John Seffrin, President & CEO, American Cancer Society
Dr. Walter Willett, Harvard University

A 2007 report called the nutrition scoring algorithm, "An unfailing, ever reliable guide to better nutrition both within and across food categories."

So how do these renowned scientists respond to Big Y's opinion that their system has gone the way of the buggy whip?

To my knowledge no one has asked.