Food Scores database makes its debut

by Keith Nunes
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Product profiles in the Food Scores database include information on how products compare in terms of nutritional content and whether they contain certain additives.


WASHINGTON — The Environmental Working Group published a searchable database on Oct. 27 that rates food and beverage products sold at retail on such criteria as nutrition, ingredients of concern and degree of processing. The Food Scores system is designed to “guide people to greener, healthier and cleaner food choices,” according to the E.W.G.

Product profiles in the database include information on how products compare in terms of nutritional content and whether they contain what the group calls “questionable additives.” Ingredients listed as questionable include nitrites, potassium bromate among others. The database also lists meat and dairy products that are likely produced with antibiotics and hormones, and it lists fruits and vegetables likely to be contaminated with pesticide residues.

“When you think about healthy food, you have to think beyond the Nutrition Facts Panel,” said Renee Sharp, the E.W.G.’s director of research. “It doesn’t always tell the whole story. E.W.G.’s Food Scores shows that certain foods that we think are good for us may actually be much less so because they contain questionable food additives or toxic contaminants.”

The Grocery Manufacturers Association called the Food Score database “severely flawed.”

 “The methodology employed by E.W.G. to develop their new food ratings is void of the scientific rigor and objectivity that should be devoted to any effort to provide consumers with reliable nutrition and food safety information,” the G.M.A. said in a statement. “Their ratings are based almost entirely on assumptions they made about the amount, value and safety of ingredients in the products they rate. Adding insult to injury, E.W.G. conducted no tests to confirm the validity of any of their assumptions.

“Not only will the E.W.G. ratings provide consumers with inaccurate and misleading information, they will also falsely alarm and confuse consumers about their product choices. Embedded in the ratings are E.W.G.’s extreme and scientifically unfounded views on everything from low-calorie sweeteners to the nutritional value of organic foods.”

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