Guiding Stars is an objective, evidence-based, nutrition guidance program. The system rates foods as good, better, and best to give consumers at-a-glance advice: the more stars a food earns, the more nutritious it is. The Guiding Stars algorithm 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.
What criteria are considered for assigning stars to individual foods?
Are the Guiding Stars criteria the same for all foods in the store?
If a food product does not have a Star, is it a bad food?
Do three starred products cost more?
Why are there so few stars in the prepared foods and deli sections of the store?
Does the Guiding Stars program reflect the revised 2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans?
The FDA and USDA announced new recommended Daily Values for many vitamins, mineral and nutrients. Does the Guiding Stars program reflect the revised Daily Values and proposed Nutrition Facts label requirements?
Why do so few yogurts earn stars?
How do regular versions sometimes earn more stars than low-fat or diet versions of a food?
How is it possible for frozen fruits and vegetables to receive just as many stars as fresh?
Does buying only starred foods guarantee a healthy diet?
What if I still have questions regarding a product’s rating?
This program is based on calories. Why aren’t serving sizes consistent with the Nutrition Facts label?
Does the program count vitamins that are naturally occurring differently from those that are added by fortification?
Why do sugary cereals (Cookie Crisp, for example) still receive stars?
Why do grapes and pretzels get the same Guiding Stars rating?
What percentages of foods in the store get stars?
How does Guiding Stars ensure that the data and star ratings are accurate?
Questions on the Science
How do you verify the science?
Why doesn’t your algorithm consider things like genetic modification, organic production, natural foods, artificial sweeteners and antioxidants?
Why did you include “whole grains” in the formula? They are not nutrients per se and are not included on the Nutrition Facts label.
How does Guiding Stars take into account vitamins and minerals that are not included as part of the Nutrition Facts label?
Why do you separate credits for omega-3 fatty acids and EPA & DHA?
Do you differentiate between naturally occurring and added sugars?
If a manufacturer were to provide the amount of added sugars in their product, could the GS algorithm include that information in its assessment?
Artificial colors are not included in any national nutrition policies in the United States so why does Guiding Stars debit for artificial colors?
Why does your algorithm not debit for artificial sweeteners?
Are factors like organic and genetically modified foods considered in the ratings?
Is protein level taken into consideration in the ratings process?
Do all foods that list ‘partially hydrogenated vegetable oil’ get a debit for trans fat?
Questions from Parents
Why isn’t baby formula rated?
Why are baby foods rated differently than the other foods in the store?
Adult foods are debited if they have saturated fat, why not baby foods?
In the dairy section, whole milk does not earn stars, but aren’t young children supposed to drink whole milk?
Why don’t you credit baby foods with fiber?
Questions on the Beverages Algorithm
What criteria are considered for assigning Stars to individual beverages?
Are the Guiding Stars criteria the same for all foods and beverages in the store?
If a beverage does not have a Star, is it a bad beverage?
What reference measure is used in the new beverage algorithm that allows beverages that do not contain calories, such as water, to earn Stars?
Non-nutritive (low or no-calorie) sweeteners are not included in any national nutrition policies in the United States so why does Guiding Stars debit for non-nutritive sweeteners in the beverage algorithm?
Chemical preservatives are not included in any national nutrition policies in the United States so why does Guiding Stars debit beverages containing them?
Why does Guiding Stars debit food products for artificial colors and not for other additives to limit (including non-nutritive sweeteners and chemical preservatives) like it does for beverages?
Why does Guiding Stars credit beverages like kombucha for live active cultures and no credit is given to foods like yogurt?
Is protein level taken into consideration in the rating process?
Why are alcoholic beverages exempt from evaluation?
Why are meal replacement beverages exempt from evaluation?
Why are milk and milk alternatives not evaluated by the beverage algorithm?
Why are natural sugars included as a debit in the beverage algorithm?
Why is caffeine not included in the evaluation of beverages?