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Last week, the National Consumers League (NCL) complained to the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) about the NuVal nutritional labeling system, saying that it "gives snack chips, soft drinks, and desserts scores as high as or higher than some canned fruits and vegetables."

NCL gave three reasons of its complaint:

"First, as mentioned above, it often generates scores that may do more to confuse and mislead consumers than to help them make educated nutritional decisions. Secondly, NuVal scores are based on an algorithm that has not been publicly released, meaning it has not been subject to necessary and intense scrutiny from nutritional professionals.

"Finally and most importantly, NCL believes that FDA, not a private company, should be the one giving nutritional advice to consumers. We urge FDA to promulgate a nutritional rating system that would clarify things for consumers and is in line with IOM recommendations."

Dr. David Katz,Chief Science Officer for NuVal, LLC and the person largely responsible for turning essentially academic research into a timely for-profit venture, responded to the criticism via the Huffington Post, saying that NuVal "uses a robust, vigorously tested, thoroughly validated, widely vetted, extensively applied, and independent algorithm to determine the truth. An algorithm that correlates with health outcomes -- including all-cause mortality. An algorithm shielded in perpetuity from industry or political influence. An algorithm that does what the NCL claims to care about: protect consumers. That's why it was built, and the only reason."

Katz also questions who - or what - is behind the NCL criticisms, and he says that if NCL had wanted to review the algorithm, all it had to do is ask. Katz also suggests that while NCL says it is complaining on behalf of consumers, consumers themselves have not complained, but rather have embraced the system.
KC's View:
Would one consistent and ubiquitous nutritional labeling system be best for all concerned? Probably.

But that's not the way the world works. And let's face it - NuVal has filled a specific need and given thousands of consumers a point of reference. It is hard to imagine exactly what is prompting the NCL complaints ...