Guiding Stars® To Implement Minor Adjustments To ProprietaryAlgorithm

Changes reflect the most current nutrition science information and impact less than 1% of food items in database

Guiding Stars, the world’s first store-wide nutrition navigation system, today announces minor revisions to their evidence-based proprietary algorithm. The Guiding Stars algorithm is regularly reviewed by the Guiding Stars Scientific Advisory Panel and amended as needed, based on changes in dietary guidelines, nutrition policy, and/or new scientific evidence that comes to light. The changes will be implemented on June 17, 2009, and shelf tags will reflect the revised star ratings in stores in late June.

The Guiding Stars algorithm is grounded in the most current dietary guidelines and recommendations of leading national and international health organizations, such as the US Food and Drug Administration, the US Department of Agriculture, the US Health & Human Services, the National Academy of Sciences and the World Health Organization. The Guiding Stars system evaluates all edible products – regardless of price, brand or manufacturer – and assigns each item zero-to-three stars based on the nutritional value.

“Nutrition is an ever-evolving science that is constantly being amended by health experts as we learn more about certain foods and how they impact our overall health,” said Leslie Fischer, PhD, MPH, RD, Guiding Stars’ Scientific Advisory Panel member. “Changes in the algorithm serve to further positively influence consumers’ ability to make nutritious choices.”

The algorithm changes being implemented include the following:

  • Removing “Sodium Citrate” as a keyword for added sodium in the Meat/Dairy model. Sodium Citrate is currently added to yogurts, but is a part of the standard of identity and, according to the FDA Code of Regulations, manufacturers are not required to declare it on the ingredient panel. This revision is being implemented because companies that choose to voluntarily declare the ingredient were being unfairly debited.
  • Revising the Trans Fat rule to debit only those items that contain manufactured trans fat in the form of partially hydrogenated oils as an ingredient, or that have at least 0.5 g or more of naturally occurring trans fat. While the vast majority of trans fat in foods comes from partially hydrogenated oils, there are some naturally occurring trans fats in meat and dairy products. This is a correction to the model as some foods that have small amounts (<0.5 g which would be rounded to zero on the food label) of naturally occurring trans fats (beef, dairy, etc.) were being debited in the same way as foods containing added trans fats. All items that contain 'partially hydrogenated' oil ingredients have always been debited in the Guiding Stars program.
  • Revising the Whole Grain credit to ensure that all single ingredient whole grain items such as brown rice receive the Whole Grain credit to remain consistent with the recent FDA announcement that all single ingredient whole grains are eligible for the whole grains health claim.
  • Revising the algorithm’s rounding rules so that Dietary Fiber and Omega-3 fatty acid values are rounded to the nearest hundredths and the remaining attribute values are rounded to the tenths to properly align data in the Guiding Stars database to FDA labeling requirements or rules in the Guiding Stars algorithm. Please note that Omega-3 fatty acid values are only used in the algorithm for products in the fats/oils model.
  • Removing Fluoride as a keyword for nutrient density

The Guiding Stars system is based on an extensive, proprietary database that rates and indexes over 60,000 edible products including not only packaged foods but also fresh foods, produce and prepared meals. The minor algorithm adjustments will affect the star ratings of less than one percent of the items within the database. The vast majority of the items impacted will gain 1-star as a result of the changes.

The Guiding Stars system was the first of its kind when implemented in select grocery stores in September 2006 in response to consumer demand for a simple, easy-to-understand tool for making good nutritional choices as they shop. The Guiding Stars program is now on shelf tags and signage in grocery stores throughout the Northeast, Southeast, Mid-Atlantic and Florida, and has also recently launched the first nutrition navigation system in a public school in MSAD 75 in Topsham, Maine, and Bates College in Lewiston, Maine in April.

About Guiding Stars Licensing Co.

Since 2006, Guiding Stars has been leading the way in helping consumers make nutritious choices by pioneering the first-ever storewide nutrition navigation system. The Guiding Stars program is a simple, easy-to-understand tool for making good nutritional choices and is designed to make a positive and lasting impact on public health. Guiding Stars Licensing Co., based in Scarborough, Maine, creates opportunities for supermarkets, manufacturers, food service providers and other organizations to license the program and make nutritious shopping simple throughout the United States. Guiding Stars is currently in more than 1,400 supermarkets up and down the East Coast including 1,177 Food Lion Stores in the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic, 167 Hannaford locations in the Northeast and 108 Sweetbay stores in central and western Florida. The program is supported by a 15-person team with significant licensing, marketing, food retail, IT and customer service experience.