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Grocery chain tests nutrition labels on food

FULLERTON, Calif. — At a time when consumers are increasingly concerned about what they eat, Supervalu, the owner of Albertsons and other grocery chains is launching a wide-ranging nutrition labeling campaign Wednesday designed to help shoppers quickly sort out what's more healthy.

But don't expect any labels on big sellers like cookies, soft drinks, juice or ice cream. The stores are staying away from those nutritional hot potatoes for now.

"We don't have an obligation to be the pizza police," said Jeff Noddle, Supervalu's chief executive, "but we do have an obligation to be a conduit of information for consumers who enter our stores and traverse the 30,000 to 40,000 products we sell."

Supervalu — the nation's No. 3 grocer, which also owns Bristol Farms, Jewel-Osco and other chains — has developed what it calls "nutrition iQ," a program that relies on color-coded, easy-to-spot shelf tags, or cards, that front grocery aisles and a color-coded system to help shoppers make selections.

Some foods will have shelf signs with a red tab that says, "low saturated fat." Others will have orange tags for foods that have higher levels of fiber, green tags for items with less salt and blue labels for foods with more calcium. The rating system launches with several thousand products and will be rolled out to include much of what's sold inside a typical supermarket.

Grocery chain tests nutrition labels on food