Wal-Mart initiative pressures grain-based foods
BENTONVILLE, ARK. — Grain-based foods were cast in a harsh light in a Jan. 20 announcement by Wal-Mart Stories, Inc. of an initiative to reduce levels of trans fatty acids, sodium and added sugar in the private label food products it sells through its Wal-Mart stores. Explaining the effort, the retailer listed grain-based products atop each list of foods to be targeted for reduction of the inputs. In the case of trans fatty acids, Wal-Mart cited 2004-06 data (largely predating reformulations associated with the 2006 mandate of trans fat labeling) fingering grain-based foods as the source of 40% of dietary trans fat, far exceeding the second highest source, margarine, at 17%. In the case of sodium, grain-based foods were cited as the source of 39% while for added sugar, grains were said to contribute 6%. Wal-Mart listed grains first as the target for reduced sugar, listing sweet bread and rolls, muffins, breakfast pastries, granola, trail mix bars, snack bars, breakfast bars, pancakes, waffles and french toast, even though fruit drinks and dairy desserts contribute higher levels of added sugar to the diet. Under Wal-Mart’s plan, by 2015 industrial trans fats are targeted for complete elimination while sodium would be reduced by 25% and added sugars by 10% in many of the private label products it sells.