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March 15, 2011 > Safeway simplifies hunt for nutrition

Safeway simplifies hunt for nutrition

By Denny Stein

Write 'em up! 'Roll 'em out! Hang 'em up! Read 'em now! What's all the hype about?

I have to admit I thought Safeway's new SimpleNutritionTM program, which rolled out February 16, was just another marketing ploy. But after an extensive interview with Kerry Neville, Safeway's Consulting Dietitian, I'm taking another look. I went to the Hub Safeway and the Safeway in Union City. The SimpleNutritionTM tags are not easy to find at first, until you train your eye to spot them. But they soon become familiar as you push your cart up and down the aisles.

The nutrition labels are simplistic, as claimed. For example, there are green tags declaring Fat Free, Good Source of Calcium, and Made with Whole Grains. Seems too simple if you're trying to educate yourself. But education isn't the defining point of SimpleNutritionTM. Finding the foods you already know you want is the point. Imagine that you are trying to lose weight; you're searching for low fat, fat free, or calorie smart foods. Look! There's a Fat Free green tag on these vegetarian baked beans but not on the beans with bacon. Now you can make a knowledgeable choice. For diabetics, dieters, or mothers of small children, products marked as Sugar Free are now easier to spot. And for the Baby Boomers, SimpleNutritionTM tags will point out foods that are Low Cholesterol and/or a Good Source of Fiber

Safeway nutritionists claim to have done multiple surveys on both nutritional criteria and shopping habits. They found that many shoppers just don't have the time to suss out the nutritional labeling on the back of a can. In an attempt to avoid overwhelming us with information, Safeway does not list every possible benefit of each food. Of course, beans, and sweet potatoes are great for fiber, but that's an added bonus. Similarly, citrus fruits obviously provide vitamin C. Most yogurts are already marked Non-Fat or Low Fat by the manufacturer, and it's highly likely that dairy products contain calcium, so no need to add duplicate signage there, or on milk containers.

For nutrition savvy shoppers, the Benefit Tags make it easier to find their preferred foods. For those folks who don't have time to check the nutritional value of a food, the Benefit Tags make decisions quicker and easier. And for those who have just never thought much about nutrition, the small green tags, next to the price label, serve as reminders that you can shop and eat healthier. One caveat though, premium ice creams, cinnamon rolls, candy bars and such are NOT marked "Eat at Your Own Risk." So shop smart, use the new Safeway tags as tools. Eat well.

For more information, and to let Safeway know what you think, you can go on-line to:, or the Safeway Facebook page.

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