Special Feature: PHA’s Nutritional Standards Recognized Among Most Rigorous in the Nation

When PHA’s partners commit to developing healthier products or broadening access to healthier options, the question of what constitutes “healthier” or “better for you” becomes critical. From the beginning, PHA made sure these commitments would result in meaningful changes by creating high standards that aligned with federal dietary guidelines for nutritious, healthy eating and that reduced or eliminated ingredients that contribute to obesity.

In 2018, these nutrition standards—which are available to PHA partners and the general public in an online calculator — were recognized in a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) - commissioned report as being among the strongest and most rigorous in the nation.

RWJF’s Healthy Eating Research Better-for-You Foods Scientific Advisory Committee — composed of prominent researchers, nutritionists, and policy experts — evaluated a dozen nutrition standards for better-for-you food and beverages used by a wide range of companies and organizations in the United States. PHA’s standards ranked among the top three. It is worth noting that nutritional standards developed by two of PHA’s partners — companies Walmart and Ahold Delhaize — were also ranked among the top eight.

PHA’s standards “received a strong score because they consider both the product’s nutrient quality, including factors such as saturated fat and sodium content, and the product’s primary ingredients, such as whole grains or fruits and vegetables,” the report concluded. It also recognized PHA for setting one of the lowest sodium standards evaluated, and noted that the online calculator makes PHA’s standards user friendly for its partners.

In assessing the quality of PHA’s standards, the committee found that the criteria provided the “highest consistency with Dietary Guidelines,” represented all food groups, made few exemptions and set “strong limits for undesirable nutrients and food components.”

PHA’s Healthier Food and Beverage Product criteria are based on the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, with input from registered dietitians and other national experts. The online calculator — created in partnership with the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS) — provides retailers, manufacturers, and distributors with an easy way to identify which packaged foods and beverages to stock, merchandise, and sell.

PHA’s partners use these thorough standards to reformulate, label, and promote healthier products and to guide consumers to the healthiest options on their menus and store shelves.

“This top ranking by the Healthy Eating Research Advisory Committee validates PHA’s commitment to excellence, transparency, and accountability,” said PHA COO Stacy Molander. “We are proud to share this recognition with our partners and supporters and encourage everyone to read the full report.”

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