Monday, February 09, 2009

Irony thy names are Boston Pizza and Health Check

So a few weeks ago the second annual "Salt Lick Award" was announced.

The Salt Lick Award is the dubious honour conferred by the Canadian Stroke Network, the Canadian Obesity Network and the Advanced Foods and Materials Network to the producer of a food with an obscene amount of salt.

This year's award was given as a whole to the country's commercial pizza producers including Boston Pizza where it was reported in the Salt Lick press release,

"Two slices (284 grams total) of a large Rustic Italian pizza at Boston Pizza contain 2,580 mg of sodium"
(or about 1,000 mg more than an adult's daily recommended daily maximum)

Boston Pizza of course is a restaurant that's part of the ridiculous Heart and Stroke Foundation misinformation Health Check program whereby certain items on the menu are given a Health Check seal of approval including items containing as much as 1,220mg of sodium (the Thai chicken wrap) or almost a full day's worth.

So in essence Boston Pizza capitalizes on the Heart and Stroke Foundation's Health Check program to bring customers through the door, and the Heart and Stroke Foundation capitalizes on the dollars paid for by Boston Pizza for the endorsement along with the increased exposure. While you might want to make an argument that at least they'll have "healthier" choices if patrons order a Health Check'ed item, given how much sodium the Health Check program allows, a comparative analogy would be the Lung Association profiting off their endorsement of "light" cigarettes (if they're going to smoke anyway....).

Having far more experience that I'd care to admit in understanding how the Health Check program operates and the players behind, it I'd be willing to bet dollars to doughnuts that when the Canadian Stroke Network and friends put out their Boston Pizza mentioning press release that someone from the Heart and Stroke Foundation called them to complain, as the bad press might affect the business of a Health Check participant.

And really, it is about business. Exhibit number two is the current promotion being put forth by Boston Pizza themselves whereby you can order heart shaped pizzas with some proceeds going to the Heart and Stroke Foundation.

I guess Boston Pizza's trying to protect its customer base by ensuring the dollars flow to an organization who supposedly is there to help prevent heart disease.

Ironic that the Heart and Stroke Foundation try to "prevent" it by encouraging unhealthy eating in restaurants.

[Want more irony? Here's the Heart and Stroke Foundation's own press release calling for a maximal daily sodium consumption of 1,500mg and here's one where the Foundation recommends that you eat out less frequently.]