Lifestyle & Belief

Wal-Mart's good food options now "Great For You," chain claims


An employee in a food aisle of Wal-Mart's Chicago store.


Tim Boyle

Wal-Mart — the largest seller of food in the US — is about to label its healthier fare as "Great For You" in what it says is part of a strategy to improve the nutritional choices of it customers and make healthier fare less expensive.

Food labeled "Great For You" will initially appear on select Wal-Mart Great Value and Marketside items, as well as on fresh and packaged fruits and vegetables at Wal-Mart U.S. stores nationwide this spring. 

The green and white seal shows the stylized outline of a human figure with its arms spread toward the sky, The Associated Press reported, which added that food makers and sellers had come under scrutiny for adding such nutritional seals to package fronts.

According to MarketWatch, items with the "Great For You" icon must meet rigorous nutrition criteria informed by the latest nutrition science and authoritative guidance from the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

However, according to Reuters, the FDA had yet to introduce a standardized seal to show foods that meet certain health criteria.

Regardless, some companies use the labels misleadingly, according to the AP.

Wal-Mart said 20 to 25 percent of its Great Value-brand foods met the criteria for the new seal, without saying how many products will carry it.

To earn the "Great Food" label, foods must meet specific thresholds, Reuters reported, developed the company said in consultation with food and nutrition experts, health organizations and government entities.

Fresh fruits and vegetables qualify, as do lean cuts of meat. Brown rice makes the cut, while white rice does not. Skim and 1 percent milk qualify, while 2 percent and whole milk do not.

"There are no candy bars," Reuters quotes Andrea Thomas, senior vice president of sustainability at Wal-Mart, as saying.

MarketWatch quoted Thomas as saying:

"Wal-Mart moms are telling us they want to make healthier choices for their families, but need help deciphering all the claims and information already displayed on products. Our 'Great For You' icon provides customers with an easy way to quickly identify healthier food choices. As they continue to balance busy schedules and tight budgets, this simple tool encourages families to have a healthier diet."

Food accounts for more than half of Wal-Mart's annual sales,