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Heart and Stroke Foundation SA removes refined grains from Heart Mark criteria




The Heart and Stroke Foundation SA (HSFSA) regularly reviews the criteria for its Heart Mark endorsement programme, which is part of an ongoing effort by the foundation to reduce the number of deaths in SA from preventable heart disease and strokes.

18/09/2018

In early 2016, the HSFSA reviewed the endorsement criteria for refined cereal grain products, including white rice and white pasta.

The endorsement is awarded on the merits of a product’s nutritional make-up, and never bought. Food products are independently tested, and if a product fails to meet the Heart Mark criteria, it will not enter the programme.

Scientific literature clearly shows that consumption of whole-grain products instead of refined cereals improves cardiovascular and overall health. Local and leading international dietary and cardiovascular prevention guidelines recommend the consumption of whole-grain cereals instead of refined cereals.

The HSFSA sets category-specific nutritional criteria based on the latest national and international guidelines for the prevention of cardiovascular disease and informed by other prominent international dietary guidelines.

Endorsing both whole-grain and refined cereal grain products does not help consumers make better food choices, and therefore the HSFSA has discontinued new endorsements of refined cereal products since July 2016.

Consumers can use the Heart Mark’s registered trademark logo (a fork and a knife with a heart) as a guide to making healthier food choices – for example, choosing whole-grain foods over refined grains. Marking refined grains as a healthy food may lead to the displacement of whole grains, legumes and vegetables.

This does not mean that using refined grains as an affordable and fortified energy source should be actively discouraged. However, promoting their intake to maintain or improve health contradicts evidenced-based dietary advice, and the continued endorsement of refined grains is doing a disservice to the public.

All refined grain products that were endorsed and displayed the Heart Mark logo before July 2016 will now cease using the logo on packaging by September 30 2018.

All such products that were manufactured or produced with the Heart Mark logo by the manufacturer before September 30 2018 can be distributed and sold up to March 31 2019.

This means that even if a manufacturer ceases to use the Heart Mark logo on affected products by September 30 2018, consumers may still find these products on store shelves until March 31 2019.

The HSFSA has informed all parties that have been affected by the withdrawal of the Heart Mark endorsement on these products. It has urged the affected brands to inform their consumers about the phased process.

The Heart Mark logo will no longer appear on the following products from April 1 2019:

This article was paid for by the Heart and Stroke Foundation SA.

 

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