New program urges US food shoppers to visit the pyramid

The United States Department of Agriculture's food pyramid, revamped two years ago to reflect contemporary nutritional knowledge and promoted principally on its website,, will get a promotional boost by American food producers and retailers.

The Grocery Manufacturers Association/Food Products Association and the Food Marketing Institute will launch the Take a Peak program in 17 states and more than 2000 retail outlets to inform consumers how marginal shifts in their food-buying ways can greatly improve health.

The program employs aisle banners, info kiosks, educational brochures and coupon booklets, and only foods that meet certain nutritional criteria are eligible. "I am very pleased to see the food industry taking up the challenge to help consumers make healthier choices," Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns said. "We've had a tremendous response to MyPyramid and I'm confident that as awareness increases, so will the health of Americans."

The USDA revamped the old 'one-size-fits-all' food pyramid in 2005, introducing 12 models that more accurately reflect the nutritional needs of people depending on their age, sex and fitness level and recommending consumption of more fruits, vegetables, grains and dairy products.

"All our research shows that consumers are eager for healthy food choices and dietary information that will help them control the ingredients in their meals and support healthy eating at home," said Tim Hammonds, president and CEO of the Food Marketing Institute, which represents 1500 retailers and wholesalers.

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