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Nutrition guidance program Guiding Stars and Wellness Layers, a provider of online and mobile customer and patient portals, have launched a public beta release of a new search engine on Guiding Stars’ Web site that allows shoppers to search more than 50,000 foods in the Guiding Stars database.
Called the “Food Finder,” the tool was developed to provide UPC-level Guiding Stars ratings to consumers. “Food selection for most of us is done mainly at the local grocery store,” said Jeremy Nobel, MD, MPH, of the Harvard School of Public Health and member of Guiding Stars scientific advisory panel. “By providing consumers with an easy guidance program in-store and tying that into an easy-to-follow online nutrition guidance program, we are bridging an important gap. This new tool will offer the first easy, comprehensive nutrition guidance to consumers while they plan their food purchases. This will empower consumers to easily identify more nutritious foods and, in turn, lead to a healthier lifestyle.”
With Food Finder, consumers can review products’ nutrition facts labels, ingredients information, category, health claims, and food allergens. This new tool will also allow consumers to immediately identify the more nutritious foods within a category, to compare products, and to comment on products. Additionally, the Web platform developed by Wellness Layers encourages consumers to exchange ideas and share ratings through an online community supporting the Food Finder.
The second phase of the partnership will occur later this year and will focus on the development of a customizable and licensable Web tool called “The Smart Shopping Planner,” a fully featured food shopping tool that can be customized with the brand identity and unique requirements of each participating partner. The tool will reside as a portal on each partner’s Web site, with a smart shopping function and an integrated meal planner that will allow visitors to create shopping lists and then print, e-mail, or download them to a mobile application. In addition to providing information about making healthier food choices, other topics will include medical condition-related alerts, shopping on a budget and weight loss.
“Our partnership with Guiding Stars is paving the way for busy consumers to more easily integrate balanced nutrition into their healthy lifestyles,” said Amir Kishon, PhD, CEO of Wellness Layers. “The user-friendly Guiding Stars system, combined with our platform, will offer the first shopping list that is tightly integrated with personal nutrition planning to provide 360 degree nutrition guidance to consumers.”
Scarborough, Me.-based Guiding Stars rates all edible products in the store – regardless of price, brand, or manufacturer, and utilizes an evidence-based algorithm that is based on the most current dietary guidelines and recommendations of national and international health organizations, such 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. The more nutritional value a food has, the more Guiding Stars it receives on a scale of zero to three. One Guiding Star indicates good nutritional value; two Guiding Stars, better nutritional value; three Guiding Stars, the best nutritional value.
The program is currently in more than 1,600 supermarkets including Food Lion, Hannaford, Bloom, Sweetbay, Homeland, and Kings Super Market. Guiding Stars has also expanded into public schools, colleges and hospitals, and appears on the Shopper mobile iPhone application