Dartmouth Medical School
For Release: September 6, 2006
Contact: DMS Communications (603) 650-1492
Supermarket Nutrition Navigation System Launched
Hanover, NH—A scientific advisory panel co-led by a Dartmouth Medical School nutrition expert established a supermarket-wide system that will help shoppers quickly identify nutritious choices. Hannaford Bros. Co announced the in-store nutrition navigation system called Guiding Stars Sept. 6 to make it easier for interested shoppers to choose more nutritious foods.
Unlike other systems currently offered, Guiding Stars is not limited to store-branded products or packaged goods. More than 27,000 items in Hannaford stores, located across the Northeast, have been analyzed to date, including all brands, fresh produce, meats, deli, bakery and packaged goods.
The system did not consider how much a product cost or whether it was a store brand, according to Dr. Lisa Sutherland, a nutrition expert who was the panel co-leader. She recently joined the Dartmouth Medical School Department of pediatrics.
Guiding Stars features a symbol of a figure with one, two or three stars, on food shelf tags throughout all Hannaford stores. One star is good nutritional value; two stars is better nutritional value; three stars is best nutritional value.
"It's not often that any retailer can say they're the first to promote a new offering," said Hannaford spokesperson Caren Epstein. "At Hannaford it's critical that we listen and respond to consumer needs as quickly as possible. Our research—including more than 3,000 Hannaford shoppers—shows that our customers want to eat better, but are confused by the volume and complexity of nutrition information. Guiding Stars will help by giving them a simple way to make more informed choices."
The foundation of the navigation system is a proprietary formula (patent pending) used to analyze food products and give them a star ranking. It was developed by a scientific advisory panel that in addition to Sutherland included experts from the University of North Carolina, Tufts University, the Muskie School of Public Service at the University of Southern Maine, Harvard University and the University of California, Davis. The panel drew from its own expertise and extensive research from national health organizations. Sources included the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Academies of Science, and the World Health Organization.
The Guiding Stars criteria support the recommendations of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2005 and serve as a quick complement to the Nutrition Facts label and ingredient list. Foods are credited for minerals, vitamins, dietary fiber, and whole grains and debited for trans fats, saturated fats, cholesterol, added sugars and added sodium.
Guiding Stars relies on information provided from the Nutrition Facts label and the ingredient list. If the food is not packaged - like fruits, vegetables and meats - the data comes from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Because manufacturers' serving sizes vary greatly, a consistent unit of 100 calories is used to analyze foods.
Many foods in the stores will not have stars for one of two reasons: either the food doesn't meet the nutritional criteria for a star or the food is not rated. Some foods (e.g., baby food) are not rated because regulatory bodies have not established guidelines for these products; they are not a significant source of nutrients (e.g., coffees, teas, bottled water and spices), or due to labeling inconsistencies.
For more information, contact Caren Epstein, Hannaford Bros. Co. (207) 885-3132, or visit www.hannaford.com.