National Heart Foundation Tick gets the boot. After 26 years the National Heart Foundation Board has decided to retire the controversial Tick. Developed in 1989 as a consumer guide to healthier food choices, the National Heart Foundation Tick has lost the consumer confidence it use to enjoy in Australia, after it was revealed the foundation was ‘selling out’ to fast food restaurants and junk food manufacturers.
As Sue Dunlevy from News Corp pointed out earlier this week, the National Heart Foundation Tick developed a credibility problem when it accepted $300,000 a year from McDonalds to put the Tick on some of it’s fast food menu items.
However, CEO of the National Heart Foundation, Mary Barry, told the media this week that it was the introduction of the Health Star Rating (HSR) system and not the controversy surrounding the Tick that led to the Board’s decision to retire the symbol.
“Over the past few years, the Heart Foundation has worked with the Federal Government and other stakeholders to develop the Health Star Rating system, which was launched in December 2014. Since the launch, the HSR system has been well received by food manufacturers and is becoming sufficiently well established, and understood by shoppers. We feel we can now safely begin to retire the Tick,” she said.
While the National Heart Foundation Tick has steadily been losing credibility and consumer confidence for years, for over 20 of it’s 26 years the Tick deserved it’s reputation as a recognised and trusted symbol in Australia. There’s no denying that the Tick has helped Australians to make healthier food choices at the supermarket and influenced some improvements in the food supply.
So let’s put aside the criticism for a moment and give credit where credit is due by listing the achievements of the National Heart Foundation Tick during it’s illustrious career:
- The Tick ensured the inclusion of a Nutrition Information panel on the back of all packaged foods carrying the symbol, 13 years before it was mandated. Prior to the Tick there was no nutritional information on food packaging.
- The Tick program engaged the food industry to reduce trans fat levels. By 2005, all spreads with the Tick were virtually trans fat free.
- The Tick has helped reformulate food in our supermarkets. In 2013, approximately 16 tonnes of salt was removed from the food supply from the reformulation of pasta sauce alone.
The Heart Foundation will continue to work with manufacturers who currently have the Tick on their products as the program winds down. It is expected the program will be fully retired over the next 12 to 24 months.
For more information visit the National Heart Foundation website www.heartfoundation.org.au