The NuVal System scores food on a scale of 1 to 100. The higher the NuVal Score, the higher the nutrition. For fruit and veg, scores are based on the concentration of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fibre in particular. Those at the very top of the range are very highly concentrated in many nutrients and low in calories. The lower scoring produce items are less packed with nutrients or higher in calories.
With meat and poultry, scores tend to vary based on the content of saturated fat and sodium in particular; when these are more concentrated in a product, the NuVal™ Score will tend to be lower. Processed meats with added sodium will also tend to score lower. The saturated fat content of poultry varies between white and dark meat (white meat tends to have less), and whether it is skinless or not (the skin is very fatty).
Ok, it does make some sense so far, but when you take a closer look at the scores, the theory behind the system begins to fall apart. The NuVal system doesn’t seem to take portion size into account – a whole ham scores only 27, but who will eat a whole ham to themselves in one sitting? More likely you’ll eat only a few slices, but according to this scoring system, ham is a real ‘baddie’.
Debate about food labelling in the UK has been going on for some time now and leading the way in helping us to balance our diet is the Guideline Daily Amount (GDA) system, which does take into account the quantities we eat. I asked Jane Holdsworth, Director of the GDA campaign, for her comments,
“ The NuVal Quality Index is similar to the Food Standards Agency’s “traffic light” food labelling system in that it provides a judgement on foods and ignores the portion sizes that consumers actually eat. Under the NuVal points system, foods normally consumed in small quantities, such as raisins and cheese, are labelled as unhealthy when in fact, they can play an important role in a balanced diet. Consumers could infer that a diet made up of only top-scoring foods such as broccoli, okra and oranges is perfectly healthy when they would actually be missing out on vital nutrients.
We support a guideline daily amount (GDA) system of front of pack labelling as we believe it is important to give consumers the facts about what is in their food so that they can make an informed decision about how it fits into their overall diet. This is supported by research that shows 80% of people say they find GDA labels easy to understand and 84% would like to see the labels on even more packs”.
The US is in desperate need of encouraging their population to eat more healthily, levels of obesity and heart disease are extraordinary, but I don’t think this ‘revolutionary’ system from NuVal is going to help, I think it will confuse people even more.
To find out more, visit: www.whatsinsideguide.com