Supervalu Inc. is set to roll out a health and wellness program that aims to help people with gluten sensitivity.

Supervalu, gluten-free, gluten-free program, gluten sensitivity, health and wellness, celiac disease, sprue, diet management, Anthony Provenzano, pharmacy, gluten intolerance, gluten-free diet, clinical services, nutrition iQ, supermarket

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Supervalu plans gluten-free program

October 13th, 2010

MINNEAPOLIS – Supervalu Inc. is set to roll out a health and wellness program that aims to help people with gluten sensitivity.

The food and drug retailer said Wednesday that it is offering customers afflicted with gluten sensitivity or the more severe celiac disease, also known as sprue, an informative diet management program throughout its supermarkets, including Acme, Albertsons, Cub Foods, Farm Fresh, Hornbacher's, Jewel-Osco, Shaw's/Star Market and Shoppers Food & Pharmacy.

Developed by Supervalu's health and wellness team, including registered dietitians, the new gluten-free program is slated to be implemented in phases over the next three months, the company said. As part of the effort, signage and special merchandising sets will be in select stores to help make it easier for customers to find gluten-free products.

Customers can also visit the customer service department to pick up an in-store shopping list/guide to gluten-free products as well as get their gluten-related questions answered. More extensive gluten-free shopping lists as well as recipes and snack and meal solutions will be available on the stores' web sites.

"For people suffering from gluten intolerance, eating foods with gluten causes inflammation and damage to the lining of the small intestine, which can result in nutrients passing through the body without being absorbed. This may contribute to other health concerns, including malnutrition, some types of cancers and a variety of autoimmune diseases," Anthony Provenzano, pharmacy director of clinical programs at Supervalu, said in a statement.

"As a whole, the U.S. population is seeing an uptick in gluten intolerance, and there are many more people who have it but don't know it," Provenzano explained. "This program is designed to help people manage a gluten-free diet and hopefully encourage others to seek advice from a health care professional about a possible sensitivity to gluten."

Supervalu reported that according to the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness, 3 million Americans suffer from the inherited celiac disease, and a 97% of them go undiagnosed or are initially given an incorrect diagnosis. In addition, there is no pharmaceutical cure for the disease; a 100% gluten-free diet is the only current treatment. The foundation estimates that about 500,000 celiac diagnoses are expected to occur over the next five years.

Gluten is found in certain grains such as wheat, rye and barley. It's a key source of nutritional protein and can be used as an additive to foods low in protein, as a flavoring additive or as a thickening agent. Gluten-intolerant symptoms typically include gas, diarrhea, fatigue, joint pain, weight loss and dermatitis.

Though most people who eat a gluten-free diet do so because they must, a gluten-free diet can also appeal to health-conscious consumers or those who desire a gluten-free lifestyle for various reasons, such as helping to manage celiac-related dermatitis, according to Supervalu.

"Our gluten-free program is one of a number of programs we've implemented to promote healthy lifestyles for the benefit of the 22 million customers nationwide we serve each week," Provenzano stated. "This program, along with our nutrition iQ program, which features easy-to-see, color-coded shelf tags to help consumers quickly identify healthier food choices, will help to provide our gluten-free customers the shopping ease and convenience they deserve."