Canadian and U.S. nutrition labelling systems aren’t helpful in helping consumers make wise food choices, say McGill University researchers.
In a study published in the December issue of the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, the researchers compared four different labelling systems and found that the Nutrition Facts label currently required on most food products in the U.S. and Canada was least usable. That label, which lists the percentage daily value of several nutrients, took more time to understand and led to nutrition choices hardly different from chance, the researchers said in a release.
The researchers said the best system was NuVal, a shelf sticker used in some American food markets. It indicates the overall nutritional value of each food item with a number from 1-100.
NuVal scores are calculated by nutrition experts at several U.S. universities, including Yale, Harvard, and Northwestern, and emphasize both the positive and negative aspects of each food. For example, several fruits and vegetables rate 100.
The NuVal number can also be used to compare products. For example, Cap’n Crunch cereal rates only a 4, while Post Frosted Shredded Wheat earns a 31.
At the bottom of the sample list on the NuVal website? Nabisco Chips Ahoy Chewy Real Chocolate Chip Cookies, which rate a 1.