MINNEAPOLIS, Oct 13, 2010 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- Consuming food containing gluten can be debilitating for people with gluten sensitivity or the more severe celiac disease (also known as sprue). They must rely on strict gluten-free diets for good health. Now, as part of its commitment to provide customers with convenient and affordable health and wellness solutions, SUPERVALU(R) INC. (SVU 12.13, +0.08, +0.66%) is offering customers afflicted with gluten sensitivity an informative diet management program throughout its nationwide family of grocery stores, including Acme(R), Albertsons(R), Cub Foods(R), Farm Fresh(R), Hornbacher's(R), Jewel-Osco(R), Shaw's/Star Market(TM) and Shoppers Food & Pharmacy(R).
The new gluten-free program, developed by SUPERVALU'S Health and Wellness team, including registered dietitians, will roll out in phases over the next three months. As part of the program, SUPERVALU's family of stores will provide signage and special merchandising sets 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' websites.
"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," said Anthony Provenzano, SUPERVALU pharmacy director of clinical programs.
"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. 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."
According to the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness, 3 million Americans currently suffer from the inherited celiac disease, and an astonishing 97 percent of Celiacs go undiagnosed or are initially given an incorrect diagnosis. In addition, there is no pharmaceutical cure for the disease. A 100 percent gluten-free diet is the only existing treatment. The foundation says that about 500,000 celiac diagnoses are expected to occur over the next five years(1).
More in-store gluten-free help and convenience Gluten-free foods don't have to be special or specially made, although some are. Natural examples of gluten-free foods include fruits, vegetables, beef, poultry, fish nuts, eggs, amaranth, corn, rice, millet flax, lentils, potato and soy. While most grocery stores have many of these items on hand, the challenge for customers is knowing which products are gluten free, where to find them and what can be made with them. SUPERVALU's gluten-free program hopes to provide answers to all of these questions.
"Since there are no existing medical therapies or medications available to relieve symptoms, celiacs and gluten-sensitive people must eat a gluten free diet for good health," said Mary Schluckebier, executive director, Celiac Sprue Association. "A program like SUPERVALU's is extremely helpful in two ways: it provides valuable information and resources to people who rely on finding gluten-free foods for their diet and it also helps educate the general population about gluten sensitivity issues and needs."
"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 said. "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."
Most people who eat a gluten-free diet do so because they must. However, 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.
What is gluten and what are the symptoms of gluten intolerance? Gluten is found in certain grains such as wheat, rye and barley. It is an important source of nutritional protein and can be used as an additive to foods otherwise low in protein, as a flavoring additive or as a thickening agent. Gluten sensitivity plays no favorites. It affects people of both genders and all races and ages. Gluten-free diets are generally followed by people suffering from celiac disease and gluten intolerance. Gluten-intolerant symptoms typically include gas, diarrhea, fatigue, joint pain, weight loss and an itchy skin rash called dermatitis.
About SUPERVALU INC. SUPERVALU INC. is one of the largest companies in the U.S. grocery channel with estimated annual sales of $38 billion. SUPERVALU serves customers across the United States through a network of approximately 4,270 stores composed of approximately 1,160 traditional retail stores, including 820 in-store pharmacies; 1,190 hard-discount stores, of which 870 are operated by licensee owners; and 1,920 independent stores serviced primarily by the company's traditional food distribution business. SUPERVALU has approximately 154,000 employees. For more information about SUPERVALU visit www.supervalu.com.
About Celiac Sprue Association Celiac Sprue Association (CSA) is a member-based 501(c) (3) non-profit organization dedicated to helping individuals with celiac disease and dermatitis herpetiformis worldwide through education, information and research. CSA is a national support organization providing information for self-management and referral services for individuals with celiac disease and their families. For more information, visit the CSA website at www.csaceliacs.org.
(1) National Foundation for Celiac Awareness, www.celiaccentral.org
SUPERVALU Mike Siemienas, 952-828-4245 firstname.lastname@example.org or Carmichael Lynch Spong Kristi Nelson, 612-375-8545 email@example.com