The American Heart Association (AHA) announced today that it had initiated a new program that it claims will help people choose healthy meals at restaurants. The Subway restaurant chain will be the first to display the Heart-Check Meal Certification logo next to certain selected meals.
In a press release the AHA’s president, Gordon Tomaselli, said the program would make “it easy for consumers to make smart choices that are heart-healthy when eating outside the home, knowing they often don’t have the benefit of reviewing the nutrition facts.” The meal certification program is an expansion of the AHA’s Heart-Check Food Certification program, which was established in 1995.
Tomaselli told USA Today that certification can cost companies as much as $700,000 annually. ”But it’s not pay-to-play,” he told the paper. “The money is used to make sure what we’re telling the public is correct.”
The AHA certification logo will be displayed on Subway meals that meet the AHA’s nutritional criteria for levels of sodium, calories, cholesterol, saturated fat and trans-fats. But the new program does not mean that all meals certified by the program will necessarily be heart healthy, as noted on the Heart-Check Meal Certification webpage:
Is it still heart healthy to order my meal with mayonnaise or mustard?
- The standard SUBWAY® 6-inch sandwiches that are part of the AHA (adult) certified meal are prepared on 9-grain wheat bread and contain the following vegetables: lettuce, tomatoes, onions, green peppers and cucumbers.
- These sandwiches were evaluated without the addition of condiments such as mustard or mayonnaise. Adding condiments containing sodium (such as mustard) or fat (such as mayonnaise) may result in the meal no longer meeting AHA meal criteria.
- Condiments such as mayo and mustard add saturated fat, sodium and cholesterol that can easily be avoided. These small choices throughout the day can help keep eating habits on track.
- Additions such as pickles, cheese, and olives also make the sandwich less healthy.
- Considering the freshness of the bread and the flavor and juiciness provided by the vegetables, these sandwiches are tasty without the addition of other toppings or condiments.
Subway said that it had been an AHA supporter for 12 years. On the AHA website, Subway is listed as a member of the Industry Nutrition Advisory Panel (INAP). Here is the mission of the INAP, according to the AHA website:
The American Heart Association (AHA) Industry Nutrition Advisory Panel (INAP) is a strategic relationship between the AHA Nutrition Committee and food industry leaders. INAP provides a platform for sharing information and planning cooperative programs in the areas of diet and nutrition and cardiovascular disease.
INAP industry members pay a $10,000 yearly membership fee to participate in meetings with “science representatives” from the AHA and other industry members. Here is the AHA description of the benefits of membership:
The primary benefit of INAP is bringing together industry and science representatives to exchange dialogues on areas of mutual interest pertaining to nutrition. Benefits of this dialogue include:
- Networking and relationship building with industry leaders
- Education on relevant topics from the nutrition, physical activity, metabolism and obesity areas
- Members get the latest updates on all AHA initiatives and are given the opportunity to provide input to the AHA regarding statements and positions on these topics
- Direct access to AHA staff involved in nutrition-related issues
- An organized relationship with the Nutrition Committee that allows for open communication on topics of interest
Members also receive one complimentary registration to attend the AHA’s spring science conference and council dinner coordinated by the Nutrition, Physical Activity and Metabolism Council (NPAM) and the Council on Epidemiology (EPI).
In addition to Subway, some of the other members of INAP are Uniliver, Coca-Cola, Dr. Pepper, Frito-Lay, Hershey, Kellog, Kraft, McDonald’s, Sara Lee, The Sugar Assocaition, Welch’s, and Yumi Brands (Taco Bell, KFC, Pizza Hut).
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American Heart Association’s New Heart-Check Meal Certification Offers Consumer Confidence on Healthy Choices
New certification available at SUBWAY® restaurants nationwide beginning today
June 04, 2012
Dallas, TEXAS, June 4, 2012 – The American Heart Association announces its latest certification program to help keep diners’ hearts in-check when they choose to eat outside of their home, the Heart-Check Meal Certification. The heart-check mark that has been helping consumers identify heart-healthy products in grocery stores for 17 years now provides the same assurance for consumers on meals. The new Heart-Check Meal Certification helps consumers to select heart-healthy meals that meet the American Heart Association’s nutritional criteria.
The American Heart Association has been at the forefront of consumer certification programs since 1995, with the launch of the Heart-Check Food Certification Program. The iconic, red-and-white check mark has grown to be recognized as a trusted source by consumers when making purchase decisions in supermarkets. Now, consumers can trust the same mark when eating out. The first restaurant chain to apply and meet the nutritional criteria required to certify meals and display the Heart-Check mark will be SUBWAY® restaurants, the world’s largest restaurant chain and leader in providing healthy options to consumers. A variety of meal offerings will meet the heart-check approval and diners will be able to identify these heart-healthy items easily starting today.
“With Americans increasingly relying on fast, convenient, prepared food, caloric intake is up and nutrition value is down,” said Gordon Tomaselli, M. D., president of the American Heart Association. “In fact, Americans have lost touch with what is in the foods they eat. That’s why we are making it easy for consumers to make smart choices that are heart-healthy when eating outside the home, knowing they often don’t have the benefit of reviewing the nutrition facts.”
The iconic Heart-Check logo will be present on SUBWAY® restaurant menus nationwide. Customers will find the Heart-Check on all SUBWAY FRESH FIT® meals featuring a variety of 6” inch subs served with apple slices and water and SUBWAY FRESH FIT FOR KIDS™ meals served with apple slices and 12 ounce low-fat milk, along with a selection of salads served with apple slices, water and sweet onion dressing. These meals meet the Heart-Check’s nutritional criteria for levels of sodium, calories, cholesterol, saturated fat and trans-fats. All of the Heart-Check items must be prepared using the recipes approved and certified to meet American Heart Association nutritional standards for heart-healthy meals.
“Being the first restaurant to meet the stringent nutritional standards required for the American Heart Association’s Heart-Check Certification program is another health milestone for SUBWAY® Restaurants” said Tony Pace, Sr. Vice President, Global Chief Marketing Officer of the SUBWAY® Brand. “The Heart-Check reinforces our leadership as a healthy food option for the many Americans who want a simple way to enjoy eating better.”
A longstanding American Heart Association supporter for nearly 12 years, the SUBWAY® restaurant brand shares a common goal to work together on multiple fronts to help consumers practice healthier eating, which can lead to a longer and better quality of life.
For more information about the American Heart Association’s Heart-Check Meal Certification or other ways we are helping consumers eat healthy and stay fit, visitwww.heartcheckmark.org
About the American Heart Association
The American Heart Association is devoted to saving people from heart disease and stroke – America’s No. 1 and No. 4 killers. We team with millions of volunteers to fund innovative research, fight for stronger public health policies, and provide lifesaving tools and information to prevent and treat these diseases. The Dallas-based association is the nation’s oldest and largest voluntary organization dedicated to fighting heart disease and stroke. To learn more or to get involved, call 1-800-AHA-USA1, visit www.heart.org
or call any of our offices around the country.
About SUBWAY® Restaurants
The SUBWAY® restaurant chain is the world’s largest restaurant franchise, with nearly 37,000 locations in 100 countries. Headquarted in Milford, Connecticut and with regional offices in Amsterdam, Beirut, Brisbane, Miami and Singapore, the SUBWAY® franchise was co-founded by Fred DeLuca and Dr. Peter Buck in 1965. The SUBWAY® brand is committed to providing a wide range of great tasting, healthier food choices while reducing its environmental footprint and creating a positive influence in the communities they serve around the world. Over the past several years, the brand has switched to products and practices that improve the sustainability of their supply chain, as well as improve energy efficiency, water conservation, and food and water quality and reduce their waste stream. The brand has also made a commitment to fully support principles of responsible farming, fishing and animal husbandry – for the long term sustainability of the earth’s natural resources. In 2011, for the third year in a row, the SUBWAY® brand was ranked “number one” by consumers in the “Most Popular,” “Top Service” and “Healthy Options” categories in the Zagat® Fast Food Survey for food brands with 5,000 or more locations. Find us on Facebook: Facebook.com/subway
. Follow us on Twitter: twitter.com/subway. Visit us at:www.subway.com
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