Topco Associates LLC announced today that it will provide consumers access to a new food scoring system developed by a group of top nutrition scientists from throughout North America. The system allows for at-a-glance comparison of foods on the basis of overall nutritional quality. This new system, the Overall Nutritional Quality Index (ONQI), uses a simple numeric score to rate any food item or recipe, enabling consumers to make choices based on an unbiased assessment of a food’s nutritional value. It is expected that the ONQI will be available through thousands of retail grocery stores beginning in the second half of 2008.
“Epidemics of obesity and diabetes suggest the toll of poor dietary choices on the public health,” noted Dr. David Katz, director of the Yale University – Griffin Hospital Prevention Research Center and lead scientist on the ONQI project. “Dramatic improvements in health are possible with changes in diet, and the way to a better diet is through one informed choice at a time. The ONQI provides a powerful tool—perhaps the most powerful tool—designed for that very job. The science behind the ONQI is very sophisticated, yet the tool is simple to use.”
Developed by a panel of 12 top health and nutrition experts under the leadership of Dr. Katz, the ONQI is a system born of “pure science.” The scientific panel worked for nearly two years, shielded from any commercial influence, with a goal of developing the best possible evidence-based scoring system for overall nutritional quality. Using a complex algorithm that incorporates some 30 nutrient factors, plans call for expressing the ONQI scores on a scale of 1 to 100. The program’s universality allows it to score products across all food and beverage categories and be applied to any food, meal or diet. Based on feedback during consumer testing of the system, the simplicity of a single score helps to eliminate the confusion often associated with product nutrition labels and marketing claims. Comparing foods within or across food categories, the ONQI answers the question: which, on average, is better for you?
By joining forces, Topco Associates and Griffin Hospital will be able to introduce the ONQI with a national footprint in 2008 through grocery stores across the nation. The ONQI will also be available to consumers through food manufacturers, restaurants and online. “Partnering with Topco and its member companies will allow us to bring the ONQI to millions of consumers nationwide,” said Patrick Charmel, president and chief executive officer, Griffin Hospital, in Derby, Conn., home of the Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center that has supported development of the ONQI. “Together, we will help Americans make better food choices.”
“Topco is pleased to help put this important nutritional tool into the hands of consumers across the country,” said Topco Associates President and Chief Executive Officer Steve Lauer. Topco’s Chairman Ric Jurgens, who is also chairman, president and chief executive officer of Hy-Vee, Inc., added, “We intend to bring the ONQI to market in a way that helps consumers make healthy choices about food.”
A review of the science and practical applications of the ONQI will be presented at the Yale Griffin Prevention Research Center Scientific Conference on Friday, November 30, 2007. The conference will be held at the Marriott at Metro Center, 775 12th Street, NW, Washington, D.C.
Topco Associates LLC is a $7.3 billion, privately held company that provides innovative solutions for its food industry member-owners and customers. Topco leverages the collective volume, knowledge and commitment of these companies to create a competitive advantage in the marketplace by reducing costs and offering winning business-building capabilities. Together, Topco members represent more than $110 billion in consumer sales and have thousands of stores across the country.
Griffin Hospital, a not-for-profit subsidiary of Griffin Health Services Corporation, is the home of the Center for Disease Control-funded Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center. The research efforts of the Center are intended to measurably improve the standard of health and quality of life of the communities it serves and to develop innovative approaches to health promotion and disease prevention that will directly benefit the public’s health. Griffin Hospital has received national acclaim for creating a facility and approach to patient care that provides an exceptional patient experience and superior clinical outcomes.