The GH Nutritionist Approved Emblem and incubator are “designed to augment the Good Housekeeping Seal at the grocery” by going beyond the existing seal’s focus on just nutritional standards to evaluate also information about how a product is made, how consumers should use it and how it makes the healthy choice the easy choice, said Jackie London, the program founder and GH nutrition director.
“The Good Housekeeping Nutritionist Approved Emblem builds off of the platform of consumer advocacy associated with the traditional Good Housekeeping Seal, but takes into account the lifestyle of today’s consumers who are looking for healthful options without sacrificing taste or time,” London said.
She explained the new emblem “was born in terms of looking for something … more geared towards the Millennial set, which is a generation more inclined towards transparency of food products, understanding what our food is and what it is not – for example, is it a candy bar or a protein bar – and also needing products that are simple."
Three criteria for the emblem
With that in mind, applicants for the seal will be evaluated on three criteria: simplicity, transparency and innovation.
When evaluating a product’s simplicity, Good Housekeeping with look at two areas: simplicity of ingredients and whether the product makes consumers’ lives simpler, London said.
“Simple ingredients can be a subjective term, but for the purposes of the emblem simple really means that the product is made with real whole foods,” she said. “For example, if a protein isolate is your first ingredients – it may not be a great fit.”
Even some whole foods don’t count – like Non-GMO Project Verified, Organic cane sugar, London said, explaining that whole foods in many ways is a stand in or healthy and wholesome ingredients that our bodies need.
Simplicity also describes how the product makes life easier for consumers, London added. For example, is it a one-handed food that new mothers can eat while holding an infant, or an on-the-go breakfast that busy adults can consume without slowing down.
The second criterion, transparency, speaks to the company’s approach to sourcing, labeling and communicating with the consumer how a product was made, what is in the product and role or value of the different ingredients and processing steps used to make it.
It also addresses the need for clear marketing that is not misleading, London said. For example, she noted, if a product is labeled as vegan, macrobiotic, gluten-free, Non-GMO Project verified, USDA organic and appears to the consumer to be something healthy but the first ingredient is tapioca syrup – that won’t make the cut.
Finally, innovation will be evaluated as it relates to simplicity and transparency, London said. She pointed to KIND Snacks’ clear packaging for its bars as an example of innovation that changed how people approached their products by allowing them to see what is inside before they bought it.
Good Housekeeping has already awarded the emblem to nine consumer packaged food “launch partners,” that exemplify these three criteria.
They include Carrington Farms, which demonstrates innovation by packaging hemp and flax seeds in individual serving size sachets that consumers can more easily mix into foods compared to the large multi-serve packages that dominate the space and which often lead to product spoiling before consumers can use it all.
Dole’s organic salad mixes are an example of making eating healthier simpler for consumers by sparing them the hassle of chopping lettuce and mix-in ingredients. The brand also illustrates transparency by separating out the calories for the salad dressing from the other ingredients to give consumers control over where they source their energy and how much they want to add, London said.
Other emblem partners include Garden Lites, Luvo, Larabar, PANATEA, Chilean Fresh, Beanitos and Jarlsberg, according to London.
London said she handpicked these partners and used health and epidemiological data to evaluate whether they fit the emblem’s values. Other companies interested in the emblem, which is licensed for a fee, can reach out to London via the seal’s website.
Beyond the seal
Good Housekeeping simultaneously is launching a food brand incubator to help emblem holders maximize the marketing and messaging around winning products, but also to develop additional products that make eating healthier easier.
London explained that while many players in the food industry are “making great strides” and already have a general idea of what modern consumers want from better-for-you products, Good Housekeeping can help with product development by providing additional consumer insights and taste test feedback. It can also help consumers hone messaging around the products.
Just as Good Housekeeping wants to promote products that meet consumers where they are on the health scale, so too does it want to meet brands and companies where they are in the development process. This means if an emblem-holder is not interested in the incubator services, it is not required to participate, London said.
Good Housekeeping will continue to evaluate new products for the emblem and its incubator services on a rolling basis, and London said she is looking forward to expanding awareness of healthy options to facilitate America’s shift towards improved wellness.