Guiding Stars Updates Guidance for Non-Nutritive Sweeteners

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Guiding Stars is updating its algorithm, the formula it uses to assign stars to foods and beverages. Integrity and relevancy are critical to the success of the Guiding Stars nutrition guidance program and its objective, science-based standards. These updates make the program even stronger and more effective at guiding consumers toward nutritious options.    

Guiding Stars relies on the expertise of its independent Scientific Advisory Panel (SAP) to review and respond to evolving scientific evidence. After a thorough review, the SAP decided to update its guidance for non-nutritive sweeteners.

Summary of Update  

To better guide consumers towards products that support optimal health, the Guiding Stars SAP made the decision to debit foods containing non-nutritive sweeteners by 1 star, an approach consistent with what is done in the beverage algorithm. This pertains to all synthetic non-nutritive sweeteners but does not apply to natural non-nutritive sweeteners such as stevia and monk fruit. Synthetic non-nutritive sweeteners are now combined with artificial colors as part of an “Additives to Limit” debit used in all algorithms.  

Impact on Star Ratings at Participating Grocery Stores

  • 125 products no longer earn stars due to 1 star debit for non-nutritive sweeteners 
  • 100 products earn 1 less star due to 1 star debit for non-nutritive sweeteners 
  • Top food categories impacted by this synthetic non-nutritive sweeteners update:
    • Yogurt
    • Breakfast Bars  
    • Fruit Cups
    • Breads
    • Tortilla and Wraps
    • Drink Mixes

Learn More  

You can learn more about the Science Behind the Stars by accessing the White Paper that details the Guiding Stars algorithm.  

About Guiding Stars  

Guiding Stars is an objective, evidence-based, nutrition guidance program. Since 2006, it has helped millions of consumers make more nutritious choices, making a positive and lasting impact on public health. The program evaluates foods and beverages when products meet its standard for nutritional value, stars are awarded to indicate good, better, and best nutrition to give consumers simple and easy to understand advice: the more stars a food earns, the more nutritious it is. The Guiding Stars algorithms includes only nutrients that have been researched to the extent that a scientific consensus has been reached and for which the knowledge has been translated into USDA’s Dietary Guidelines for Americans or nutrition policy at either the national or international level. Guiding Stars is currently in more than 2,000 grocery stores, including all Food Lion, Giant Food, The GIANT Company, Hannaford, and Stop & Shop stores. Guiding Stars can also be found in public schools, universities, corporate and hospital dining facilities, non-profit hunger relief organizations, and is accessible through the Guiding Stars Food Finder app for iOS and Android devices. To learn more about the Guiding Stars program, visit