The American Heart Association (AHA) has decided to remove the entire desserts category from its list of products that could qualify for its Heart Check front of pack labeling scheme.
The program’s simple red heart check mark is endorsed by the AHA, and requires foods to be low in saturated fat and cholesterol in order to qualify. Other nutritional criteria covered by the program include being high in whole grains, fiber and added nutrients, and low in sodium, saturated, trans and total fat. Launched in 1995, it was one of the first front-of-pack nutrition labeling schemes, designed to give consumers quick, at-a-glance nutritional information. Until now, sugar content has not been considered.
During the past 15 years, desserts have been allowed to qualify, and even with the decision to close the category, some desserts still meet the criteria and will retain the check mark until their contracts expire later this year.
An AHA spokesperson told FoodNavigator-USA.com via email: “The association advocates limiting the amount of discretionary calories in the diet which come from added sugars. Since desserts are a significant source of added sugars, we have elected to close the dessert category to further certification.”
The organization clarified that certification for the remaining dessert products covered by the program would not be renewed, and no other desserts would be admitted to the scheme.
The five remaining desserts include four Healthy Choice products – its Low Fat Ice Cream Bar, Premium Caramel Swirl Sandwich, Premium Low Fat Sorbet and Cream Bar, and Premium Vanilla Sandwich – as well as The Father’s Table New York Style Cheesecake.
No one from either Healthy Choice or The Father’s Table was available to comment prior to publication.