WASHINGTON, DC – The Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) today released the following statement in response to a new food rating scheme called Food Scores launched by the Environmental Working Group (EWG):
“The Environmental Working Group’s food ratings are severely flawed and will only provide consumers with misinformation about the food and beverage products they trust and enjoy.
“The methodology employed by EWG 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. 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, EWG conducted no tests to confirm the validity of any of their assumptions.
“Not only will the EWG 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 EWG’s extreme and scientifically unfounded views on everything from low-calorie sweeteners to the nutritional value of organic foods.
“The addition of EWG’s rating scheme to the already crowded landscape of subjective food rating systems underscores the importance of fact-based sources like the government regulated Nutrition Facts Panel and ingredient list as consumers’ best source for consistent, reliable information about food and beverage products.
“The best advice for consumers seeking to achieve and maintain a healthy diet and lifestyle is to follow the federal government’s Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which include eating a variety of foods as recommended by ChooseMyPlate.gov combined with regular physical activity to create an overall healthy lifestyle.
“When it comes to the safety of our products, food and beverage manufacturers adhere to extremely stringent food safety standards and our industry is also highly regulated by experts at the US Food and Drug Administration and the US Department of Agriculture. Food safety is our number one priority and we devote enormous resources to ensure that our products are safe.”
Examples of Assumptions and General Concerns about EWG “Food Scores”
- All conventionally produced products automatically penalized despite significant evidence that nutrition value of organic and conventional products are comparable.
- Makes assumptions about the proportion of added sugars contained in a product.
- Cites isolated studies that purport that added sugars are processed differently by the body than naturally-occurring sugars; not reflective of consensus science.
- Cites isolated studies about possible negative impacts of low-calorie sweeteners for rationale to treat as a negative factor in nutrition score; not reflective of consensus science.
- Cites “Tiny serving sizes” as a negative factor in nutrition scoring without acknowledging that serving size is determined and regulated by FDA, not food manufacturers.
“Ingredients of Concern”:
- Factors in the “ingredients of concern” algorithm are weighted arbitrarily. No explanation is given for how or why the algorithm factors are weighted the way that they are.
- No consideration given to the amount of an ingredient contained in a food product. EWG assumes that all products contain the ingredient’s Acceptable Daily Intake (ADI) amount (amount that can be ingested daily over a lifetime without appreciable risk), despite fact that most products contain less than ADI. When an ADI is not available, EWG assumes an acceptable value three times smaller than the standard used by the FDA and other leading world health agencies.
- The concentration of contaminants was not determined by analytical methods, only estimated from online sources. No consideration given to factors such as where the product was sourced (e.g. rice from Texas typically has higher levels of arsenic than rice from California).
- No analytical support provided for the pesticide residue estimates claimed for fruits and vegetables. Assumes if conventionally grown, contains pesticide and does not account for growing environment, washing, peeling, etc.
“Degree of Processing”:
- As EWG acknowledges, this entire rating is based on EWG guesses about how a product and its ingredients were made.
Based in Washington, D.C., the Grocery Manufacturers Association is the voice of more than 300 leading food, beverage and consumer product companies that sustain and enhance the quality of life for hundreds of millions of people in the United States and around the globe.
Founded in 1908, GMA is an active, vocal advocate for its member companies and a trusted source of information about the industry and the products consumers rely on and enjoy every day. The association and its member companies are committed to meeting the needs of consumers through product innovation, responsible business practices and effective public policy solutions developed through a genuine partnership with policymakers and other stakeholders.
In keeping with its founding principles, GMA helps its members produce safe products through a strong and ongoing commitment to scientific research, testing and evaluation and to providing consumers with the products, tools and information they need to achieve a healthy diet and an active lifestyle. The food, beverage and consumer packaged goods industry in the United States generates sales of $2.1 trillion annually, employs 14 million workers and contributes $1 trillion in added value to the economy every year. For more information visit www.gmaonline.org.