The Heart Foundation is embracing the latest World Health Organisation (WHO) recommendations and re-introducing a sugar criterion into relevant categories of its Tick programme.
The WHO announced a new recommendation for adults and children to reduce their daily intake of free sugars to less than 10% of their total energy intake. A further reduction to below 5% or roughly 25 grams (6 teaspoons) per day would provide additional health benefits, the WHO says.
Deb Sue, the Heart Foundation’s Tick programme Manager, says the programme previously had a sugar criterion, but it was replaced in 2001 with an energy criterion, which encompasses sugar and fat. This was because evidence at the time showed a stronger link between energy intake and cardiovascular disease than sugar intake and cardiovascular disease. Today, the association between energy and cardiovascular disease remains strong however, there is also growing concern around excess sugar intake and health.
“By acknowledging the WHO recommendations the New Zealand Heart Foundation aims to further improve the Tick programme, because it is a highly-recognisable and trusted front-of-pack labelling system in New Zealand,” says Sue.
The categories of highest relevance were reviewed first, and these will be followed by other categories where a sugar criterion may be warranted. Sugar criterion has now been set for the following categories: cereal-based bars, nut and seed bars, and breakfast cereals.
Sue says it is important to note that the New Zealand Heart Foundation launched Two Ticks in May last year, which has a sugar criterion for categories such as breakfast cereals and yoghurt. This was to help consumers easily identify core foods that the Heart Foundation recommends for everyday consumption.
She says there are currently over 1,000 products with either the Tick or Two Ticks logo on pack. “With this in mind we’re confident the Tick programme will continue to help Kiwi consumers make healthier food choices for themselves and their families.”