Our algorithm has changed! We now consider juice concentrate as an added sugar.

This change is making our program even stronger. Integrity and relevancy are critical to the success of the Guiding Stars program and this update supports our standards. So, what does this mean for some of your favorite foods and recipes? The stars are now even better at guiding you toward foods with less added sugar.

Why the change?

The FDA made the decision to include the use of “juice concentrates” as an added sugar ingredient. While these natural sugars come from fruits and vegetables, which are typically a nutritious choice, when added to a product in this concentrated form (without additional water to dilute it) they are being used as a sweetener just like sugar or syrups. We feel strongly that this change not only keeps us relevant to current policy but is a transparent way to inform customers of foods that are lower in added sugars.

On the shelf, this means some products will earn fewer Guiding Stars and, in some cases, no longer earn stars at all.

  • Many baby foods use fruit juice concentrates as a sweetener. This population, in particular, should avoid added sweeteners as evidenced by recommendations from the Academy of Pediatrics and the U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans which suggest children under the age of two should take in no more than 25% of their daily calories from added sugar. We are focused on maintaining the integrity of our program by staying relevant to current policy and transparent about added sugars in foods marketed to such an important population.
  • Many other foods marketed to the general public are also affected by this change. As manufacturers have looked for more natural sweeteners some have turned to adding juice concentrates to their products. This ingredient, while from fruits or vegetables, acts like any other nutritive sweetener in that it boosts calories and for those wanting to avoid added sugars this can cause confusion.

What’s the impact?

While we are happy to inform you of this change to show how our program is becoming even stronger due to our rigorous integrity, relevancy, and transparency, the impact is quite small. In total, out of more than 100,000 products we have rated, this change impacted only 218. These products that contain juice concentrate now receive fewer points from the Guiding Stars algorithm because of their updated added sugar amounts. Because our program is a grading system that analyzes a product to insure it has more of beneficial nutrients some of these items will still earn stars. In fact, only 163 of the 218 will no longer earn any stars.

What’s not included?

There are some exclusions to counting juice concentrates as an added sugar as outlined by the FDA’s definition. These exclusions are:

  • Items that contain juice concentrates that have been reconstituted with water
  • Juice concentrates in jams, jellies, preserves, or spreads
  • Lemon, lime, cranberry, onion, celery, and carrot juice concentrate used for color or preservation

Learn more about our ratings by checking out our white paper that details the Guiding Stars algorithm.