Lunds and Byerly's this week officially launched the NuVal scoring system, which ranks thousands of grocery items by their nutritional value.

NuVal, devised primarily by a Yale University doctor, scores products from 1 to 100, the higher the healthier. The score is displayed on grocery shelves, not directly on products.

Developed about five years ago, NuVal is used by about 30 grocery chains nationwide, including St. Cloud-based Coborn's and Iowa-based Hy-Vee, which has stores across southern Minnesota.

NuVal is available at all 22 Lunds and Byerly's in the Twin Cities, and will initially cover nearly 15,000 items. The NuVal score is based on an algorithm that weighs data found on a product's federally mandated nutrition facts panel.

NuVal is particularly adept at highlighting nutritional variations within a single product category. For instance, scores for yogurt carried by Lunds and Byerly's range from 9 to 100 with an average of 47.

Simplified nutrition labels are proliferating. "We chose NuVal because of its ease of use for customers," said Janice Cox, Lunds and Byerly's registered dietician.