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!