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Health Promot Int. 2002 Mar;17(1):13-9.

Impact of the Pick the Tick food information programme on the salt content of food in New Zealand.

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  • 1National Heart Foundation of New Zealand, PO Box 17-160, Greenlane, Auckland 1130, New Zealand. leanney@nhf.org.nz


The Pick the Tick programme of the National Heart Foundation of New Zealand aims to provide a framework for cooperation with the food industry to improve nutrition labelling and to develop a healthy food supply. Food manufacturers, whose products meet defined nutritional criteria, are able to display the Pick the Tick logo on food labels. The tick is used by 59% of shoppers in assisting them make healthy food choices. Food companies are encouraged to reformulate product composition if they fail to meet criteria and develop new products to specifically meet the Pick the Tick criteria. The objective of this study was to evaluate the impact of the programme on food formulation. The main outcome measure was the amount of salt not added to food products. Changes to sodium levels were multiplied by the volume of sales and then converted to salt in tonnes to provide a tangible measure of the impact of the programme. In a 1-year period, July 1998 to June 1999, Pick the Tick influenced food companies to exclude approximately 33 tonnes of salt through the reformulation and formulation of 23 breads, breakfast cereals and margarine. Breakfast cereals showed the largest reduction in sodium content by an average of 378 mg sodium per 100 g product (61%). Bread was reduced by an average of 123 mg per 100 g product (26%) and margarine by 53 mg per 100 g (11%). Pick the Tick appeals to the food industry as a tool for marketing food products and has provided an incentive to improve the nutritional value of foods. The tick on approved products not only acts as a 'nutrition signpost' for consumers but can also significantly influence the formulation of products without sacrificing taste or quality.

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