ARC Health & Wellness Community

The Association of Retail and Consumer Professionals


For health and wellness professionals, breaking through with your nutrition messaging can get more complicated during the busy holiday season. As you look for ways to promote better nutrition to consumers during this time of year, consider Guiding Stars — an objective, nutrition guidance program that can help shoppers easily find nutritious options.

Guiding Stars uses established nutrition science to evaluate foods and beverages to make nutritious choices simple. If a product meets the transparent nutrition criteria, it earns 1, 2 or 3 stars for good, better and best nutritional value. In participating stores, shoppers will find Guiding Stars ratings conveniently located on shelf tags, prepared foods and store-brand packaging. Guiding Stars also offers a number of resources online for both dietitians and their shoppers, including the Food Finder, The Dietitian’s Hub, The Guiding Stars Blog and our iOS app, where you can scan and search products for their Guiding Stars nutrition rating.

Here’s how it works: The nutrition guidance program evaluates foods and beverages by category, using five separate algorithms: General Foods; Meats, Poultry, Seafood, Dairy & Nuts; Fats & Oils; Infant & Toddler Foods; and Beverages. This method of evaluation accounts for the inherent differences in the composition of foods and beverages and the important roles they play in our diets. After products are evaluated with the algorithm, those that meet the evidence-based threshold to earn Guiding Stars, are labeled with 1 star for good, 2 stars for better and 3 for best nutritional value.

Guiding Stars uses transparent criteria for all brands and stores; manufacturers and retailers cannot influence star ratings. This ensures that shoppers can compare products on the shelf, store brand and national brand alike.

If an item doesn’t have a Guiding Stars icon on the shelf-tag, it simply means the item doesn’t meet the nutrition criteria to earn a star. However, there are a few exceptions: Guiding Stars does not evaluate alcoholic beverages, foods with five calories or fewer per serving, or medical foods such as meal replacements, supplements and infant formula. The program focuses on positive communication and does not ever assign a zero star icon to any food items on shelf tags. 

In summary, Guiding Stars evaluates items by category based on transparent nutrition criteria. To help your shoppers find nutritious items more easily while shopping, reach out to to learn more about becoming a participating store, and refer them to the Guiding Stars Food Finder or iOS app.

And of course, you can follow us @guidingstarsnutrition on Instagram for recipes and simple nutrition guidance.

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