Tuesday, March 17, 2009

AHA Replies to Heart Check Posting

We have received the following message from the American heart Association to our earlier posting comparing their "Heart Check" food certification program to the somewhat comparable Canadian "Health Check" program.

Here's the response:

Kimberly F. Stitzel, M.S., R.D., director, nutrition and obesity at the
American Heart Association asked for me to send you the following

Limiting sodium in your diet is important for those with high blood
pressure. The American Heart Association recommends eating less than
2,300 milligrams of sodium a day for healthy adults, and less than 1500
milligrams per day for those with high blood pressure. In general the
effects of sodium reduction on blood pressure tend to be greater in
African Americans middle-aged and older-aged persons.

The American Heart Association advocates a healthy dietary pattern over
time, with an emphasis on eating more plant-based foods, such as fruit,
vegetables, high fiber whole grains, low-fat and non-fat dairy products,
and lean meat, poultry and fish twice a week.

Our Food Certification Program is one facet of our overall outreach
efforts on nutrition - it helps people select foods that are lower in
saturated fat and dietary cholesterol. The American Heart Association's
dietary recommendations suggest using the NHLBI's DASH diet (Dietary
Approaches to Stop Hypertension) as a guide for how to eat a healthy
diet that can help lower blood pressure. More information can be found
at www.nhlbi.nih.gov.

The criteria for our heart-check mark align with the FDA health claim
"Dietary Saturated Fat and Cholesterol and Coronary Heart Disease" that
can appear on packaged products.

The text listed under our heart-check mark clearly states that the
product "Meets American Heart Association food criteria for saturated
fat and cholesterol for healthy people over age 2," which is what we are
allowed to say according to FDA regulations set for the "Dietary
Saturated Fat and Cholesterol and Coronary Heart Disease" health claim.
This health claim does have a sodium criterion, which requires an
individual food to be limited in sodium by having less than or equal to
480 milligrams.

You had also expressed concern about how our Food Certification program
is funded. Our program does not generate revenue or financial profit
for the American Heart Association, nor are donor dollars used to fund
the products. We charge low fees to food manufacturers to pay for
administering the program and making sure that the products conform to
the criteria. The fees recover the costs for conducting packaging,
science and legal reviews of the products as well as staff time and
resources to manage the program. Fees are kept low so that companies of
all sizes can participate.

If you have any questions for us, please feel free to contact me and I
will be happy to assist you.


Kristi Manning
Associate Communications Manager
Corporate and Media Communications
American Heart Association
National Center
7272 Greenville Ave.
Dallas, TX 75231
If you have a condition that necessitates a low salt/low fat diet - no uncommon among the illnesses AHA covers - you might wish to communicate with AHA what you think of this bureaucratic answer. You may wish to point out to them that it doesn't take too many "Heart Check" certified items with 480 mg of sodium to add up to the 1500 mg limit they acknowledge is appropriate "for those with high blood pressure". Indeed, it doesn't even take that many more to add up to the "2,300 milligrams of sodium a day for healthy adults".

[Hint 2300/480 = 4.8]

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