When you are looking at product prices have you noticed 1, 2 or 3 stars stamped on the price label? These are Guiding Stars. Believe me when I tell you, finding these Stars is going to make shopping for nutritious products for you and your family a breeze.
Guiding Stars is an IMPARTIAL nutrition navigation program that uses stars on store shelves to highlight, at a glance, nutritious food choices. I focused on the word “impartial” because I think it is very important for you to know that fact. Just because a product is, for example, a PC brand, doesn’t always mean it will earn a higher rating than a competitors brand. In fact, when I was touring my local Atlantic Superstore, I saw examples of name brands scoring higher than comparable PC brands.
Store brand Greek yogurt has two stars and the name brand has three. An example of the unbiased approach to the Guiding Stars system.
Guiding Stars is a non-biased food rating system that rates food based on nutrient density using a scientific algorithm to assign a 0, 1, 2 or 3 star rating. The Guiding Stars team works with two of Canada’s leading nutritional scientists to rate foods based on vitamins, minerals, fibre, whole grains, Omega-3s, saturated fat, trans fat, added sodium and added sugar.
If you are not sure if a product has a score of zero, or is not yet rated, just check the price tag. (e.g. On this tag the “S”, stands for stars and the “3” for “3 Stars”. If it was rated as zero, the tag would read “SO”)
Star ratings are based on the following criteria:
- whole grains
- saturated fat
- trans fat
- added sodium
- added sugar
In supermarkets featuring the program, you can find Guiding Stars throughout the store – in produce, packaged food aisles, seafood, dairy, the meat counter, and the bakery. You will also find Guiding Stars on shelf unit price tags for foods earning stars. If you don’t see Guiding Stars on the price tag, it means one of three things. Either a food did not meet the standards to earn a star, or the category is not rated by Guiding Stars—such as alcoholic beverages and products containing less than 5 calories per serving like bottled water, dried spices, tea and coffee, or the item is new to the store and has not yet finished being rated.
This really surprised me! I would definitely have thought the multigrain cereal would be more nutritious. But in fact, the regular product has more nutritional value. Just one example of how using the Guiding Stars leads to more nutritious food choices.
In Canada, Guiding Stars can be found at Loblaws®*, Fortinos®*, Real Canadian Superstore®*, valu-mart®*, Your Independent Grocer®*, Zehrs Markets®* and Provigo®* locations.
Within a few minutes of learning about the Guiding Stars, I used the system to make a more nutritious choice for my family. Who knew all potatoes were not created equally…lol! I needed to pick up potatoes while I was in the store. I was planning to buy the red, but switched to the yellow after reading the number of stars on the tag.
The simplicity and user friendliness of the 0, 1, 2, 3 stars rating system works well not only in stores, but also in corporate cafeterias, university dining halls, and hospital cafeterias.
As has been the case in the U.S., it is anticipated that Guiding Stars may expand from supermarkets into university dining halls, corporate cafeterias, and hospital cafeterias in Canada over time.
I want to thank Registered Dietitian, Vanessa Yurchesyn for walking me through the aisles of my local Atlantic Superstore. She was extremely knowledgeable, friendly and took time to explain how Guiding Stars works! Vanessa told me that “Guiding Stars is not influenced by price, brand or manufacturer”. I think that perfectly sums up the honesty behind the program.
Keep a lookout for your own store dietitian who would be happy to answer your questions or address any concerns.
I have always tried to make nutritious selections for my family, but find decoding nutrition labels to be very time consuming, as well as, confusing. I love that Guiding Stars takes the guesswork out of choosing foods that are nutritious for me and my family.
Remember, just follow the Stars to find nutritious foods for you and your family!
Have you noticed the Guiding Stars at your grocery store?
Have you been using the Guiding Stars program to help make more nutritious choices?