Guiding Stars has updated the formula it uses to assign stars to thousands of foods in North America. The changes align with the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) updated recommended Daily Values (DV) for vitamins, minerals, sodium and fiber and reflect consensus of nutrition science regarding omega-3 fatty acids, DHA, EPA and artificial colors.
Guiding Stars’ scientific advisory panel helps it 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 also has shown that artificial colors have negative health effects and easily can be avoided with use of natural coloring agents such as beet extract. Based on this research, foods containing artificial colors now will lose one star value. One star means good, two means better and three for the best nutritional value.
It is expected that more than 3,000 products and recipes will change star values; an estimated 1,400 items will gain stars and more than 1,600 items 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.”
Guiding Stars was aunched in 2006. The ratings appear at major grocery chains and foodservice 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 families 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 of Guiding Stars Licensing Co. “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.”
For maximum transparency, the Guiding Stars algorithm and ratings criteria are publicly available and accessible on the organization’s website.
The FDA also 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 required. 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.