Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Great For You?

 Walmart has announced that it will be helping it's customers decide whether a food is healthy with a new addition to it's products labels.  A little green person doing jumping jacks over the words Great For You is being added to food labels that Walmart deems healthy.  My first cynical thought was, "yah, I have a tough time deciding which is healthier snow peas or that super sized package of Snickers." My second thought was - the dumbing down of the America - we now need stores to inform us which products to buy.  I set aside this topic yesterday and decided I needed to sleep on it before addressing the little green person.

After a great nights sleep here are my thoughts on the Walmart Great For You campaign.

In the Walmart news release I have read about the new Great For You icon Andrea Thomas, senior vice president of sustainability at Walmart says, "Walmart moms are telling us they want to make healthier choices for their families, but need help deciphering all the claims and information displayed on products."  Walmart's willingness to help it's customers make important decisions seems very altruistic at first glance, however, shoppers already have all the information they need on the food label.  By mandate most foods are already labeled with the Nutrition Facts Panel under the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act of 1990.  All a Walmart customer needs to do is turn the box or can around and take a look at the Nutrition Facts Panel to determine if a food is a healthy choice.  We don't need a special rating system to tell us that fruits, vegetables, and lean meats are good for us!  I'm insulted that Walmart doesn't consider me or any other customer smart enough to read a label already present. 

Walmart does show it's criteria for selecting foods that have received the Great For You seal as well as a list of the products considered great for you at it's website. This list includes canned vegetables with no salt added, low fat milk, canned fruit in juice, and canned chunk breast of chicken and canned tuna packed in water.   I don't consider chunks of cooked chicken injected with salt water as being my best choice for protein.  Not a single fresh pork, beef or poultry cut is listed.  Pork and beef are nutrient dense products.  Both of these offer protein and other essential nutrients such iron, vitamin B12, and niacin.

I give Walmart credit for it's creativity.  Walmarts private label is called Great Value.  The new seal is called Great For You.  What a great tie together!  To be fair I should say that all grocery stores have the same goal - to sell food and make money.  Grocery stores typically make more money with their own private label foods so it makes sense that Walmart would spot light it's own products.  Walmarts press release does say that this new seal will be available to national brand products.  However, do you really think the HyVees, Krogers, and Piggley Wiggleys of the world want a Walmart icon on the cans Green Giant LeSueur Peas they sell? 

Thanks Walmart but no thanks.  I will continue to read the Nutrition Facts Panel supplied by the FDA and make quality buying decisions to fit my family's needs.

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