All the food labeled as healthy had to meet nutrient criteria based on Canada's Food Guide and Health Canada's Heart Health Claims.
The food is evaluated by the Foundation's dietitians, once the product passes the evaluation it is then identified with a Health Check symbol along with a description of why it is part of a healthy diet.
Each participating product is evaluated on the basis of total fat, sodium, saturated fat, fibre, vitamins and minerals.
The criteria is made by nutrition experts from across the country and the food companies are not involved in setting the criteria for the Health Check program.
Many food companies in Canada and the US set their own criteria when it comes to their own product. With Health Check you can be sure that the evaluations are well founded and precise as the results would not be modified for the profit of the foundation. Healthy eating contributes to overall health! Health Check makes healthy choices easier by helping you quickly identify products that can contribute to a healthy diet.
Health Check is not a diet or eating plan. It is simply a way of identifying foods that can be part of a healthy diet based on Canada's Food Guide.
To participate in the Health Check program, and earn a Health Check symbol, companies and restaurants must submit their product or menu item to the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada. The organization's registered dietitians evaluate and analyze the product or menu item. If the item complies with program standards, it may use the Health Check symbol. The company or restaurant must pay a reserved annual fee, used to help cover the costs of operating the program, developing educational tools, and educating Canadians on healthy eating. The Health Check program is not a fundraising program for the Heart and Stroke Foundation.
A CBC Marketplace report filmed in 2007 was critical of the program, showing some Health Check certified products with sodium and sugar levels that were beyond the recommended levels of other food-rating systems. The program has evolved in the years since this CBC piece aired in January 2008. In 2007 and 2008 significant changes were made to the sodium criteria resulting in reductions of between 25% to 70% in a number of food groups. Categories have been removed in the past few years including cookies, cakes, certain snacks, desserts and French fries.
Look for the health check logo next time you go grocery shopping.