SCARBOROUGH, Maine — Guiding Stars, the nutrition guidance program launched by Hannaford Bros. here in 2006, announced the online publication of the Guiding Stars algorithm in the November/December 2011 issue of the American Journal of Health Promotion.
The publication of the algorithm provides the scientific basis for the program's nutritional ratings of foods, which follow the dietary guidelines of organizations such as the Food & Drug Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Guiding Stars was recently awarded patent protection for the algorithm.
Under the program, food items are awarded zero, one, two or three stars — one star means good nutritional value; two stars, better nutritional value; and three stars, the best nutritional value.
Guiding Stars is used by about 1,600 supermarkets, including those operated by Hannaford and other Delhaize USA  chains (Food Lion, Bloom and Sweetbay) and by Homeland, Kings Super Market and Marsh Supermarkets .
"Guiding Stars is a pioneer in nutrition guidance, and with the proliferation of on-package and on-shelf food labeling programs, we want to be transparent about the algorithm that underlies this system," said Leslie Fischer of the University of North Carolina, a member of the Guiding Stars Scientific Advisory Panel, in a statement. "Even a well-informed consumer can have a difficult time identifying nutritious foods and the publication of the algorithm makes the Guiding Stars nutrition guidance program more transparent and accessible to the public."