THE American Heart Assn. (AHA) has awarded its "Heart-Check" mark to three additional extra-lean beef cuts, bringing the number of beef cuts that can affix the mark to packaging to six, according to an announcement by the Cattlemen's Beef Board.
The cuts include the boneless top sirloin petite roast, top sirloin filet, top sirloin kabob, top sirloin stir-fry, sirloin tip steak and bottom round steak.
The additional certifications represent "another milestone in the beef checkoff's efforts to assist consumers in understanding the positive health and nutrition benefits of beef," said Jeanne Harlan, an Illinois beef producer and chair of the beef industry health and nutrition subcommittee.
The certifications and other independent research confirm to consumers that extra-lean beef is "a building block for an overall heart-healthy diet," added Cheryl Hendricks, a registered dietitian at the National Cattlemen's Beef Assn., the board's primary contractor.
Consumers look to and trust retailers for nutrition information, Hendricks said. Displaying the AHA Heart-Check mark in the meat case as a point-of-sale item or on meat package labels makes it easier for consumers to identify extra-lean, heart-healthy beef, she said.
It also helps beef producers and retailers increase sales, Hendricks added.
Hundreds of stores across the country display the Heart-Check mark on certified beef items, and the Beef Board has integrated promotional tools for stores to use, including on-pack labels, posters and recipes, according to the announcement.
About 75% of shoppers say the Heart-Check mark increases the likelihood that they will buy the marked product, and incremental sales increase an average of 5% when point-of-sale tools are used to call consumers' attention to the marked products, the announcement said.
K-V-A-T Stores began using the promotional tools and merchandising Heart-Check beef products in 94 stores in 2011. Steve Holloway, director of meat and seafood operations at the company, said he is "extremely pleased" with the results and noted that the Heart-Check mark has proved valuable in informing shoppers that they can eat extra-lean beef as part of a healthy lifestyle.
AHA noted that it established the Heart-Check mark in 1995 and follows science-based guidelines when awarding the mark to food products to provide consumers with "a reliable system for identifying heart-healthy foods as a first step in building a sensible eating plan." AHA said more than 900 products currently carry the mark.
The Beef Board manages the national beef checkoff, which collects $1 per head in all cattle selling transactions to fund beef industry advertising and promotion, consumer information, industry research and producer education.