Have you been to a Loblaws in Quebec recently? Have you wondered what the little stars are on the shelves? I had the chance to find out when I was invited to the launch of the Guiding Stars program in August. What is Guiding Stars? It’s a way for consumers to identify foods that have been evaluated for them which helps to make healthier choices when shopping. Now on the shelves of Loblaw’s and Provigo you will see the shelf tags accompanied by stars.
Guiding Stars® is exclusive to Loblaw Companies Limited in Canada. In addition to Provigo®, Loblaws® and Provigo Le MarchéTM banner stores in Quebec, the program is available atLoblaws®, Zehrs Markets®, Your Independent Grocer®, valu-mart®, Fortinos® and Real Canadian Superstore® in Ontario and Loblaws CityMarket™ in Vancouver, BC. It’s an impartial
Here in Quebec, statistics show that 81 percent of consumers want to be healthier, want to understand and make healthier choices when it comes to food. It’s interesting to note that 87% of young people want to be healthier and are much healthier than most adults. According to Pierre Dandoy Senior Vice President, Operations for Loblaws & Provigo, they felt that with over 4 million transactions that pass in their stores Loblaws believes they have a role to help educate consumers and help teach them to make better choices for themselves as well as their families.
“We aren’t paying enough attention to the way we eat. Guiding Stars is more than a program; it’s a mission to help consumer’s live healthier lives.”
Here in Quebec 9 out of 10 people do read the nutrition table when they are buying and choosing their food. Thirty percent of those but find it difficult to understand what they are reading and close to forty percent of those are 55 and older.
Nathalie Regimbal is a dietician-nutritionist as well as the spokeswoman for the Loblaws Blue menu products. She explained a little more “All the products are evaluated in the program with algorithms. The stars are going to be on the shelves right under the food. If there are no stars, it means the product may not be evaluated. It could also mean the product is too new. Or it simply doesn’t qualify for a star. Products that have five calories and more per portion such as bottled water, tea, and spices, are not evaluated.”
The ratings are determined using a patented algorithm developed by a panel of nutritionists. The algorithm uses the products nutrition profile-contained on the Nutrition Facts Panel or in the case of fresh meat, seafood, fruits and vegetables. Health Canada’s national nutrient database. Foods are rated using a credit/debit system. Credits are given to foods for vitamins, minerals, dietary fibre, whole grains, and Omega-3 fats. Debits are given for saturated fat, Trans fat, added sodium and added sugars. Since manufacturing serving sizes vary, a unit of 100 calories is used to analyze foods. They are then given a rating of 1,2, or 3 stars.
(3 being the highest rating an item can receive.)
Some in store prepared foods such as bakery, sushi and deli are also not rated with the program.
The star guide is interesting but it’s important to read the nutrition table to ensure we are buying products our families will enjoy. This program encourages people to buy healthier and make healthier choices for themselves and their families. In Ontario 75% of customers said this star guide helped them better understand nutrition tables when they were shopping.
It’s important to note that the star guide is not in place to penalize companies who sell products that are not as healthy, but to encourage all companies to make a better effort to put forth healthier products for us to choose from. It’s an independent program that companies don’t have to pay for their products to be evaluated in the star program.
The star guide is a step in the right direction overall for anyone who wants to step towards better health.
Pierre Dandoy “A chip is still going to be a chip. And I like to eat chips on Saturday nights but this has been 2 years in the making and it will just elevate all that we have to offer our clients when it comes to our products and what they need. It’s not us who asked for this change, it’s you the consumer.”
In my own opinion as someone who has lost forty four pounds since November just from making healthier choices and exercising, I’m glad there are companies like Loblaws that are listening. I see it as a positive step in a healthier direction for consumers.
To learn more about the Guiding Stars Program please visit www.guidingstars.ca
Stay Positive and Pampered