Thursday, June 16, 2011

Heart and Stroke Foundation condemns virtually all Health Check items!


This is one of those left hand, right hand stories.

Let's call Health Check, the woefully underpowered, consumer misinformation program, that puts red check marks on highly processed foods and restaurant meals, and in turn helps to promote non-cooking and eating out, the left hand.

Let's call the right hand the actual Heart and Stroke Foundation, a wonderful and important Canadian charitable institution.

So last week, the right hand, the Heart and Stroke Foundation, sent out their regular circular to physicians. In it was the nutrition facts panel up above which described how to read a food label.

Their sodium recommendations? Pretty staid, and certainly close to being in line with their signatory status on Blood Pressure Canada's Sodium Policy,

"Choose foods with sodium amounts less than 200mg per serving, or with a % Daily Value of sodium less than 10% (230mg)"
So now lets go back to their left hand, Health Check.

Looking at the 56 food categories where Health Check specifies sodium limits, only 9 are less than 230mg of sodium. That means 84% of foods the Heart and Stroke Foundation's own Health Check program scores allow per serving sodium levels higher than those recommended by the actual Heart and Stroke Foundation.

And that's of course, just the grocery store products. For restaurants, none of the 12 categories have maximums set at the level recommended by the Heart and Stroke Foundation. In fact the lowest rung on their restaurant ladder are side salads in which Health Check allows 360mg of sodium, and the top rung are meals that Health Check allows to ring in at 960mg, nearly 5x the Heart and Stroke Foundation's upper limit.

Right hand! Heart and Stroke Foundation! There's no shame in admitting when you've been wrong. Health Check is a nutritional laughingstock among nutrition and medical professionals, and frankly is a danger to consumers. Why not just put the damn thing of its misery, and do the right thing - stop encouraging Canadians to cook from boxes and eat out at restaurants, and put your considerable clout and trust to work helping to get Canadian families back to their dinner tables for home cooked meals made from real, whole, fresh, ingredients!

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4 comments:

  1. This is a example (sodium) with added sugar, where Health Check needed to be updated. That's what they did recently, which does not necessairly reflects in lately Health Check Foods approved (needs to be updated too!): "Health Check recently announced changes to its nutrient criteria, including considerable reductions for sodium. New criteria have also been added for the first time for trans fat and sugar and changes were also made for fat and fibre."
    http://www.healthcheck.org/page/program-criteria-3

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  2. Why not just put the damn thing of its misery, and do the right thing - stop encouraging Canadians to cook from boxes and eat out from restaurants, and put your considerable clout and trust to work helping to get Canadian families back to their dinner tables for home cooked meals made from real, whole, fresh, ingredients!

    I'm guessing it has something to do with "cents" rather than "nonsense".

    K.

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  3. Roman Korol10:01 am

    Recently I lived the adventure of hunting for a can of low-sodium tomato juice for making my own tomato soup. Virtually impossible to find. All stores I checked had only the high-sodium-content kind. After some days I struck gold: one supermarket (Provigo) had a small supply of 48 oz tins of Heinz Tomato Juice, c/w Health Check logo prominently displayed, marked in bold letters "50% less salt - than regular Heinz tomato juice". The label shows 240 mg of salt per cup. Halleluia! Nothing to crow about, certainly it's not THE solution, but it helps. I see this salt content is exactly 50% less than the morbidly overstretched Health Check recommendation shown in your link. Strange coincidence? Could Heinz be one of the Health Check sponsors I wonder?

    If I had this much trouble finding this product in moderately-healthful format for homemade use, what must be the salt content of a bowl of tomato soup served to the unwary sucker in a restaurant! Caveat emptor, indeed.

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  4. Here is a new way to rate all those consumer goods including food and drugstore items: http://thefrugaldietitian.com/?p=22121

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