Why is the Heart Foundation ditching the Tick programme?

By Fiona Connor

Since its launch in 1991 the Tick has been used to focus food shoppers' attention on what's in the food we're buying. Photo / Getty
Since its launch in 1991 the Tick has been used to focus food shoppers' attention on what's in the food we're buying. Photo / Getty

It's been responsible for the removal of tonnes of fat and salt from our food, but after 25 years helping Kiwis identify healthy options, the Heart Foundation Tick is set to disappear from our food products.

According to Tick programme manager Deb Sue, the programme will be retired next year due of changes in New Zealand's nutritional landscape.

"While the Tick is moving off the shelves, the Heart Foundation will continue to own the trademark and be a trusted voice in the food space through our existing activities," said Sue.

"The food and nutrition landscape is complex and our nutrition voice will continue to play a key role in guiding consumers through the maze of confusion, and towards making good choices for them and their families."

Since its launch in 1991 the Tick has been instrumental in focusing food shoppers' attention on what's really in the food we're buying, by identifying the healthiest choices.

The programme worked closely with the food industry to reduce trans-fat levels and by 2005 all spreads with the Tick were virtually trans-fat free.

It led to food manufacturers reformulating 41 products across five food categories to meet the Tick criteria, meaning a removal of 156 tonnes of saturated fat and 15.4 tonnes of trans-fat from foods available for purchase in New Zealand.

In one year, separate research showed the Tick resulted in 33 tonnes of salt being removed from three food categories.

The tick has appeared on products since its launch in 1991. Photo / Supplied
The tick has appeared on products since its launch in 1991. Photo / Supplied

Sue explained while the Tick will disappear, The Heart Foundation will maintain a part in ensuring food standards are met, noting the industry is increasingly adopting the Trans-Tasman Government Health Star Rating System (HSR) which now features on over 2,000 products.

"Behind the scenes, we will continue to work with companies to reduce sugar and sodium in a number of food categories. We're also continuing to help Kiwis to create nutritious meals using whole and less processed ingredients, and to make healthier choices through our recipes and visual food guide."

- NZ Herald

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