Traffic Light Program

As the leading health care provider in northern Michigan, Munson Healthcare is committed to being the role model of good health to its employees, patients, and communities. 

Making healthy food choices isn’t always easy. Munson Healthcare is implementing the Traffic Light Program in hospital cafeterias to help people know at a glance which options are a healthier choice.

The Traffic Light Program labels foods as green, yellow, or red to clearly identify which foods are healthiest. The color code is based on each item’s content in four categories: calories, saturated fat, sodium, and added sugar. Green items are always a great choice; yellow items should be selected with caution; and red choices should be enjoyed less often.  

Categories of Food

The Traffic Light Program offers information about three main categories of food:

  1. Entrees: Foods available through the Innovations and Entrée Stations
  2. Items: Soups, sandwiches and sides
  3. Beverages: Water, milk, juice and soda

Traffic Light Program Guidelines

Registered dietitians reviewed the nutritional value in each of the foods and beverages available. Using 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, each food was placed into one of three categories. Please visit our Frequently Asked Questions for more information or ask to speak to the food and nutrition services manager or dietitian at your local hospital.

Traffic Light Program

Frequently Asked Questions

Should I feel guilty about consuming red labeled foods and beverages?

Absolutely not! The red label does not mean that these foods and beverages shouldn't be consumed at all. The red label is meant to encourage our patrons to stop and think about whether there is a healthier option in the yellow or green category. Additionally, nutritional labels can be confusing and items that we traditionally consider to be healthy, may not be. The red label provides a quick reminder that these foods are higher than the per-serving recommendation in at least two of the following criteria: calories, saturated fat, sodium and added sugars. If you have any questions about the nutritional value of our foods and beverages, please speak to one of our dietitians.

Why does the cafeteria offer red-labeled items at all?

A healthy diet includes foods from all color categories and let's face it, everyone needs a treat once in a while. However, nutritional labels can be confusing and balance is the key to good nutrition. The Traffic Light Program is meant to encourage interested patrons to increase their regular intake of foods and beverages labeled green or yellow and reduce their consumption of red label foods.

Will the cafeteria be removing all red-labeled foods from the Café?

No. The foods and beverages offered in the Café are continuously evaluated to ensure that we are providing a well-balanced menu with options for everyone. This includes offering items that may fall into the "red" category.

Will you be adding more "green" options to the cafeteria?

Yes. We are continuously reviewing our offering in an effort to improve the nutritional value of our entrees, items, snacks and beverages.

Why is caffeinated coffee considered a "green" option?

At this time caffeine is not one of the criteria that we are using to evaluate overall nutritional value. We are currently evaluating foods and beverages based on their number of calories, grams of saturated fat, milligrams of sodium and grams of added sugars.