PORTLAND, Maine, Feb. 1, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- Guiding Stars, North America's leading nutrition guidance program, announced today that the organization has updated its algorithm for U.S. foods, the formula it uses to assign stars to thousands of foods, to reflect the following changes: incorporate anticipated changes to the Nutrition Facts label; align with updated recommended Daily Values (DV) for vitamins, minerals, sodium, and fiber; and to reflect consensus of nutrition science regarding omega-3 fatty acids, DHA, EPA, and artificial colors.
Guiding Stars relies on the expertise of their Scientific Advisory Panel to stay current on nutrition science. After a thorough review of accumulating evidence on the anti-inflammatory and disease preventing effects of omega-3 fatty acids, the Panel recommended that the algorithm be updated to credit foods more broadly for the presence of total omega-3 fatty acids, including a bonus point for DHA and EPA. A growing body of evidence has also shown that artificial colors have negative health effects and can easily be avoided with use of natural coloring agents such as beet extract. Based on this research, foods containing artificial colors will now lose one star value.
The FDA has announced an update in requirements for the Nutrition Facts label, with a compliance date of January 2020. This update will require manufacturers to list added sugars separately from total sugar and will change the required vitamin and mineral listing on the label: vitamins A and C will no longer be required while vitamin D and potassium will be. In addition to the label changes the FDA announced updated DV for sodium, fiber, and most vitamins and minerals. In response to these revisions, Guiding Stars, with the aid of their Scientific Advisory Panel, has updated the algorithm to more closely align with the new label requirements and DV updates.
After analyzing the impact of these changes to the formula, the Guiding Stars leadership team expects that over 3,000 products and recipes will change star values. This includes an estimated 1,400 items that will gain stars and more than 1,600 items that will lose a star.
"Guiding Stars is a dynamic system that is continually reviewed and updated to evolve along with emerging nutrition scientific evidence," said Leslie Fischer, PhD, MPH, RD, a member of the Guiding Stars Scientific Advisory Panel. "Although the recent revisions to the algorithm have a large impact on the overall product ratings, they are critical to maintain the integrity and relevance of the program and to continue to inform consumers of their best food choices."
Launched in 2006, Guiding Stars collaborated closely with a Scientific Advisory Panel comprising noted nutrition and public health experts from across the country to develop the food rating system. Based on a patented and transparent algorithm that objectively evaluates the nutritional quality of foods, Guiding Stars assigns one star for good, two for better and three stars for foods with the best nutritional value. Simple-to-understand Guiding Stars ratings appear at major grocery chains and food service facilities at thousands of locations across the U.S. and Canada and online, where Guiding Stars provides healthy recipes as well as additional information to help people choose foods wisely.
"For more than 10 years, Guiding Stars has helped people make better choices for themselves and their family by guiding them to the most nutritious choices at their grocery store, in their cafeteria or by providing delicious recipes to cook at home," said Jim McBride, Director, Guiding Stars Licensing Company. "I am pleased that we have updated the algorithm to align with the growing scientific evidence for the benefits of certain fats as well as the detriments of artificial colors to our health."
McBride added that Guiding Stars always stays current with evolving scientific evidence and new policies and regulations.
For maximum transparency, the Guiding Stars algorithm and ratings criteria are publicly available and accessible on the organization's website. The program uses information from the Nutrition Facts label and ingredients lists that appear on food packaging, as well as nutrition data from the USDA National Nutrient Database, synthesizing information that consumers typically find confusing and difficult to read into a simple visual cue that indicates nutritional value. By using an algorithm to create a score based on the assignment of credits and debits, Guiding Stars makes it clear which foods provide the best nutrition, making it easy for anyone to choose more nutritious foods.
Since 2006, the Guiding Stars nutrition guidance program has helped millions of consumers make more nutritious food choices. Based on its U.S. and Canadian patented nutrition rating algorithm, the program provides a simple, easy-to-understand tool for making good nutrition choices and is designed to make a positive and lasting impact on public health. Guiding Stars is currently in more than 1,200 supermarkets in the U.S., including all Hannaford and Food Lion stores. In Canada, Guiding Stars is offered exclusively through Loblaw Companies Limited, and is currently in more than 900 stores from British Columbia to Newfoundland through Loblaws and its affiliated banner stores Atlantic Superstore®, Dominion®, Fortinos®, ProvigoMC, ProvigoMC Le Marche, Real Canadian Superstore®, Save Easy®, Valu-mart®, Your Independent Grocer® and Zehrs®. Guiding Stars can also be found in public school, college, corporate and hospital dining facilities and is accessible through the Shopper mobile app for iOS devices. For more information, visit www.guidingstars.com.