The criteria behind Guiding Stars, a nutritional labelling scheme used by retailers including Hannaford and Loblaw in the US and Canada, are being changed to reflect new science on the impact of dietary cholesterol on health.

The system “no longer imposes debits on foods that contain dietary cholesterol”, a statement issued by Guiding Stars said yesterday (8 June). “Under the new algorithm, only foods with the very highest amounts of dietary cholesterol, 300 mg or more per 100 calories, will not earn stars.”

The change, which allows foods like eggs and shrimp to earn stars, follows the publication of the latest version of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which was issued in January. The advice is updated every five years. The latest iteration of the guidelines, which runs until 2020, does not include the recommendation given in 2010 that US consumers limit their cholesterol intake to no more than 300 milligrams a day. However, the new guidelines do state consumers “should eat as little dietary cholesterol as possible while consuming a healthy eating pattern”. It adds: “In general, foods that are higher in dietary cholesterol, such as fatty meats and high-fat dairy products, are also higher in saturated fats.”

Leslie Fischer, a scientific advisor at Guiding Stars, said: “The science on dietary cholesterol has evolved. Recent research shows that for most individuals, blood cholesterol is the primary driver of heart disease and associated adverse health conditions, not dietary cholesterol. The research also indicates that dietary cholesterol isn’t as much of a factor in overall blood cholesterol levels as we once thought.”

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