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Food Lion LLC confirmed yesterday that it officially launched the Guiding Stars Nutrition Navigation System in all of its Food Lion units.
Developed by an independent scientific advisory panel of experts, and first rolled out by Food Lion's sister company under the Delhaize Group, Hannaford Bros., Guiding Stars is the first system of its kind in the United States and follows a specific algorithm for labeling food items based on their nutritional content.
The number of stars -- one, two or three -- on the product's shelf tag represents the nutritional value of the food item, with three stars being the best choice.
"Based on initial research, our company has experienced a positive response from customers who desire assistance with nutritious shopping for themselves and their families," said Ken Mills, Food Lion's v.p. of sales and marketing. "With this innovative system, Food Lion stores are providing shoppers with an easy-to-use approach to make the best dietary choices."
New England-based Hannaford Bros. inaugurated Guiding Stars in 2006. Salisbury, N.C.-based Food Lion LLC's Bloom Supermarkets banner launched the nutrition navigation system throughout its 61 stores last month.
More than 28,000 food items in each of Food Lion's 1,200-plus stores were analyzed as part of the Guiding Stars rollout, the retailer said.
Foods with one star have good nutritional value, while two stars represent better nutritional value, and three stars signify the best nutritional value. If the shelf tag has no stars, it simply means one of two things: Either the food doesn't meet the criteria for a star, or the food is not rated. For example, bottled waters and other items with less than five calories per manufacturer's serving are not rated.
Foods with stars generally have more vitamins, minerals, fiber, and whole grains, but less trans and saturated fats, cholesterol, added sodium, and added sugars. However, the Guiding Stars formula also recognizes natural differences in foods and adjusts the formula for calculating stars accordingly.
The third-party panel's ratings for the Guiding Stars system were drawn from labeling standards and nutrient levels set by the leading national health organizations (Food and Drug Administration, Department of Agriculture, Department of Health and Human Services, National Academies of Science, World Health Organization) that have determined those most beneficial for a healthy lifestyle. Guiding Stars supports the updated Dietary Guidelines for Americans that the government recently released.
The Guiding Stars system only uses information readily available to consumers on the Nutrition Facts labels and the ingredient lists, which are right on the food package. If the food is not packaged, like fruits, vegetables and meats, the data comes from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.