When I spoke about the National Heart Foundation Tick recently with my sister Debbie, she told me it was no longer trustworthy. I was astonished to hear this and decided to investigate.
The National Heart Foundation Tick has been a trusted symbol since 1989. It was the most recognised food labelling program for 26 years. That is, until December 2015 when the heart foundation retired the tick! I was wondering what I was doing in my retirement when the tick retired? Nobody told me!
Then thinking back to late 2015 it was when we moved from Maleny to Toowoomba. I was very busy unpacking in our rental house while out and about looking for a new home to buy. Even then I wonder how I missed it?
The downfall of the “tick of approval” came about once the Heart Foundation started given “The Tick” to McDonald’s chicken nuggets and then to Milo. This ended in “The Tick” getting the flick! It was replaced by the Health Star Rating Program.
Even though I have seen the Health Star Rating stars on supermarket packaging, nothing clicked with me! I did not know that it replaced the “The Tick”. The plan was to phase out the Heart Foundation Tick over 12-24 months. That means, at the latest by December 2017.
Yet, I am still finding products with the heart foundation “Tick of Approval”. I was very pleased when I recently saw the Heart Foundation Tick on frozen dinners at Aldi. I had to buy a few for my 92-year-old mother to try. Given that she is 92 years old this would give her a night off cooking. Yes, she still cooks for herself but is finding it more of a chore as she ages.
Of course, with the Heart Foundation Tick on the frozen dinner many people would not bother to read the label. However, I am a big label reader! I have even thought I may have to have therapy for the habit! When I looked at the ingredients, sugar, fat, and salt the meals were healthy enough. They were not overloaded with sugar or salt. What I find these days that after so much concentration on our “sugar” habits, the worst offender is SALT! Therefore, I am convinced it is worthwhile taking the time to read the list of ingredients on the labels. I conscientiously read the labels on several similar products for a comparison, then I make a choice.
But not everyone has the time to read the labels. This must be the reason some companies are hanging on to the Heart Foundation “Tick of Approval” for as long as they can. You see the tick, you pick the product.
It is only in the last week I have started looking for the Health Star Rating. Milo had a 4.5-star rating. However, after a campaign by the consumer group Choice earlier this year public health experts agreed that it could only claim 1.5-star rating. Nestlé has since removed the star rating symbols from their packaging!
The Health Star Rating Program is a joint Australia, state and territory governments and New Zealand Government initiative. It was developed with industry, public health and consumer groups. It is a voluntary system and implementation is over five years from June 2014. Read the “frequently asked questions” here.
The Health Star Rating will help us make quick decisions. Nonetheless, I think I will continue to read the labels and make up my own mind. Hopefully, the list of ingredients on the label is trustworthy?