Dr. DAVID KATZ & the FOOD INDUSTRY- Interview, part 2

Helaine Ciporen: Yes. I’d like to see NuVal in every single supermarket. I want to know, how did the food manufacturing industry respond to your system?  I imagine they would be quite concerned.

Dr. David Katz: Well, there are a number of stages to that response, Helaine.

First, the intent was to make this pretty bulletproof from the start.  It’s interesting; I remember in the early days we finished construction of version one of the algorithm in, I guess it was late 2007, I think.  And I remember we convened a scientific conference and invited all of the lead nutritionists for all of the big food companies and most of them intended and we filleted open the work for them.  And I remember some saying, “You know, as much as I’d like to criticize this thing, my Ph.D. dissertation advisor was on your panel.”  You know?  I mean that’s the kind of response we were getting.  So, I mean, the panel was so illustrious most of the Ph.D. biochemists working for big food companies were trained by one of our guys. 

The pedigree was impeccable. We then went through a series of very careful validation steps, checking the scores against expert opinion, checking the scores against healthy diets that have been established, checking the scores against the Healthy Eating Index, and then ultimately, and this is a bar no other nutrition guidance system on the planet has cleared, a Harvard study was conducted in which NuVal scores were attached to all of the foods consumed by over 100,000 people in the Nurse’s Health Study and the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study and over a span of 20 years the average NuVal scores of their foods and health outcomes were correlated and the higher the average NuVal score of their diets, the lower their rate of cardiovascular disease, the lower the rate of diabetes, the lower their body mass index and the lower their rate of premature death from any cause.  Well, since this is the only system on the planet to clear that bar, it’s pretty hard to throw rocks at it and not have them bounce off and hit you instead. 

So we built it to be bulletproof. The food industry has begrudgingly acknowledged the quality of the team, the quality of the science, the quality of the validation, and they remained pretty quiet about it until recently.  My understanding from the business side – and I don’t have, you know, all of the business side interactions – but my understanding from this side is that the efforts by the food industry to interfere or criticize have picked up some steam and the reason for that is the system has picked up steam.  It’s big enough now to matter.  So, for example, three of the regional grocers that have adopted NuVal are part of Kroger and Kroger is the nation’s largest grocer behind Wal-Mart with well over 2,500 stores in 30-some odd states.  It’s an $80 billion company and it looks likely – I don’t think we know for sure, but it looks likely that at some point Kroger might roll this out to all of its stores.  They’ve basically told manufacturers if you want a new food introduced in any of our stores it needs to come to us with a NuVal score. So this has started to become a significant - and so that’s good .


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