The Environmental Working Group’s Scorecard on Processed Foods: A Revelation
On Monday this week, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) announced that it was releasing Food Scores: Rate Your Plate.
This is an astonishing interactive food database that rates 80,000 (!) supermarket foods on their nutritional value, ingredients as well as contaminants, and level of processing.
The database awards scores ranging from 1 (terrific) to 10 (really bad).
Feeling unimaginative this week, I typed in “Apples” and found 13 products, scored at from 1 to 6 points. You can click on the product to get EWG’s breakdown of how and why each product is scored.
Some of the EWG findings are amazing and, in some cases, alarming:
- 58% of the products scored contain added sugars.
- 46% of the products contained “natural” or artificial flavors.
The average food in its database has:
- 14 ingredients;
- a 58 percent chance of containing added sugar (including a 22 percent chance of added corn syrup) and is 13 percent sugar by weight;
- a 46 percent chance of containing artificial or natural “flavor” and a 14 percent chance of artificial coloring;
- a serving size of 80 grams packing 121 calories;
- 446 milligrams of salt per 100 grams. For some foods, that amounts to 30 percent of the daily salt intake recommended by the Institute of Medicine, and that’s in a single serving.
Play around with the site. You will learn plenty about what’s on those shelves. EWG has performed a great public service in making this information accessible.
Here are the relevant documents:
- EWG’s explanation
- The I-phone app
- The New York Times account
And just for fun, here’s the USDA’s Food and Nutrient Database for Dietary Studies 2011-2012 with its searchable version of foods, portions, and nutrients.