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    Guiding Stars Gets Tweaked

    The Guiding Stars store-wide nutrition navigation system has made minor revisions to its evidence-based proprietary algorithm, which is regularly reviewed by the Guiding Stars Scientific Advisory Panel and amended as necessary, based on changes in dietary guidelines, nutrition policy and/or new scientific evidence that arises. The changes were made last month, with store shelf tags reflecting the revised star ratings in late June.

    The Guiding Stars store-wide nutrition navigation system has made minor revisions to its evidence-based proprietary algorithm, which is regularly reviewed by the Guiding Stars Scientific Advisory Panel and amended as necessary, based on changes in dietary guidelines, nutrition policy and/or new scientific evidence that arises. The changes were made last month, with store shelf tags reflecting the revised star ratings in late June.

    The program’s algorithm incorporates the most current dietary guidelines and recommendations of such organizations as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Health & Human Services, the National Academy of Sciences and the World Health Organization.

    “Nutrition is an ever-evolving science that is constantly being amended by health experts as we learn more about certain foods and how they impact our overall health,” explained Leslie Fischer, PhD, MPH, RD, a member of Guiding Stars’ Scientific Advisory Panel. “Changes in the algorithm serve to further positively influence consumers’ ability to make nutritious choices.”

    Changes to the algorithm changes include the following:

    --Removing “sodium citrate” as a keyword for added sodium for meat/dairy. Sodium citrate is currently added to yogurts, but is a part of the standard of identity and, according to the FDA Code of Regulations, manufacturers aren’t required to declare it on the ingredient panel. This revision is being implemented because companies that choose to voluntarily declare the ingredient were unfairly being debited.

    --Amending the trans fat rule to debit only those items that contain manufactured trans fat in the form of partially hydrogenated oils as an ingredient, or that have at least 0.5 grams or more of naturally occurring trans fat. While most trans fat in foods comes from partially hydrogenated oils, there are some naturally occurring trans fats in meat and dairy products. This change corrects the model, as some foods with tiny amounts of naturally occurring trans fats (beef, dairy, etc.) were being debited in the same way as foods containing added trans fats. All items containing “partially hydrogenated” oil ingredients have always been in the program.

    --Revising the whole grain credit to ensure that all single-ingredient whole grain items such as brown rice receive the whole grain credit in keeping with the recent FDA ruling that all single-ingredient whole grains can carry the whole grains health claim.

    --Updating the algorithm’s rounding rules so that dietary fiber and omega-3 fatty acid values are rounded to the nearest hundredths and the remaining attribute values are rounded to the tenths to properly align data in the system database to FDA labeling requirements or rules in the Guiding Stars algorithm.

    --Removing “fluoride” as a keyword for nutrient density

    The algorithm adjustments will affect the star ratings of less than 1 percent of the database, with most affected items gaining one star.

    The Guiding Stars system, introduced in September 2006 at Hannaford Supermarkets, rates and indexes over 60,000 edible products, including packaged foods, fresh foods, produce and prepared meals. The program is now featured on shelf tags and signage at the Delhaize-owned Hannaford, Food Lion and Sweetbay banners in the Northeast, Southeast, Mid-Atlantic and Florida, as well as a public school and college in Scarborough, Maine-based Hannaford’s home state.

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