Friday, January 18, 2008

Health Check: Good for the Food Industry, not for People

The misleading continues with the Health Check symbol. Yesterday a CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal) printed an online article called "Checking up on Health Check". The article is about how Health Check gives it's endorsement to foods that can make you seriously sick. For example, it said that the Health Check symbol has been allowed to go on iGor Chocolate Muffins for kids -

the muffins are almost one third sugar (mentioned on Dr. Yoni Freedhoff's blog in May of last year). Freedhoff is an obesity specialist, critic of the Health Check program, and Canada's Food Guide.

I posted in November about this deceitful symbol, and information from the blog of Dr. Freehoff. He has been exposing what the Health Check program has been allowing for their approval. Freedhoff says,

Parents will think, ‘This is great, I’m going to give these to my kids.’ Basically, they’re just shoveling sugar into their mouths.

The Health Check program process requires food companies to submit an application that has certain criteria. There is a one time evaluation of not more than $750, and upon approval, a licencing fee of up to $3625 for one product. If a company has 14 or more products the licencing fee can be from $16,500 to $49,500. So it amounts to a tidy income of close to $3 million a year for the Health Check program.

In the meantime they have approved over 1200 products, many have dangerous levels of sodium, refined white flour, sugar, and more red meat than is recommended. According to Dr. Freedhoff, these ingredients are major factors in type 2 diabetes, heart and stroke problems, and metabolic syndrome.

A good piece of advice is to educate yourself about what amounts of sodium, sugar, carbs, fats, etc. are recommended, and read the nutrition label anyway. The symbol's purpose is supposedly to be concerned with consumer health, but it can't be trusted.

Before long you will probably see it on other future products like MacDonald's MacClonewich or the Double Twin Cheese Burgers.

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