Starting August 10, customers at Loblaws stores in Ontario will have a faster, easier way to make healthier food choices when shopping for groceries for their family. Loblaw Companies Limited (Loblaw) is launching Guiding Stars, an objective, nutrition navigation program, providing at-a-glance nutritional ratings for foods found in every store aisle.
The Guiding Stars program is designed to complement existing nutritional data such as the nutrition facts table, on-package product labels, and Canada’s Food Guide to Healthy Eating. The program scores food based on nutrient density using an objective scientific algorithm grounded in the most current dietary guidelines and recommendations of national regulatory and health organizations.
Products are scored on a credit and debit system where foods acquire stars for containing more vitamins, minerals, dietary fibre, whole grains, and omega-3 fats and are debited for containing saturated fat, trans fat, added sodium, or added sugars. Products can earn up to three stars and these ratings are displayed on easily identifiable shelf tags for products in store. Foods with fewer than five calories per serving like bottled water, tea, and spices, are not rated. If a food has been rated and has no stars, it did not meet the criteria for a Guiding Star.
“Guiding Stars has strength in its consumer-friendly translation of current dietary recommendations that are based on science,” said Alison Duncan, professor, Human Health and Nutritional Sciences at the University of Guelph and a member of the scientific advisory panel for Guiding Stars. “This means that consumers can rely on the Guiding Stars program to provide them with quick and accurate guidance about the nutritional quality of the food choices they are making.”
A national online poll conducted by Vision Critical for Loblaw revealed that almost seven out of ten (67%) Canadians are making healthier food choices, but that confusion about food labels is a barrier for many Canadians (60%) in achieving a healthier diet. Recent in-store research from the first phase of Guiding Stars in the Greater Toronto Area showed that eight in ten customers liked the program, considering it clear and easy to use and offering helpful information
“One in three Canadians shop at our stores each week and we work really hard to ensure we meet their priorities, including helping them make informed decisions about healthier food,” said Michael Lovsin, senior vice president, Health and Wellness, Loblaw Companies Limited, and a member of the Ontario Healthy Kids Panel. “Offering in-store dietitians and programs like Guiding Stars are ways that Loblaw is working to empower our customers to make healthier choices.”
A registered dietitian is a regulated health professional who can help make sense of food and nutrition. While 50 Loblaw banner stores currently offer in-store dietitians year round, a special Guiding Stars Dietitian Day will take place at select Loblaws stores in Ontario on Saturday August 11 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Customers are invited to visit the store on this day to receive hands-on guidance from dietitians about the Guiding Stars program, discover great tasting healthier food options and simple ways to prepare them.
Loblaw stores offer a number of healthier food options through the PC Blue Menu brand. The newly-designed packaging of PC Blue Menu products makes it easy to quickly identify nutritional benefits with plus (+) and minus (-) symbols identifying the nutritional attributes of each product. In addition to the broad range of products available, Loblaw banner stores offer support for Canadians in their journeys towards healthier lifestyles with initiatives like the in-store dietitians program, President’s Choice Cooking School classes, and partnerships with the Canadian Diabetes Association and Hypertension Canada.