BUSTED: HEALTH CHECK | Originally broadcast Mar. 20, 2009 on CBC-TV
Are these restaurant meals really healthy, low-sodium choices?
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trying to eat healthy even when eating out? Some big restaurant chains have branded meals with a helpful stamp of approval from the Heart and Stroke Foundation.

It's called a Health Check and if a menu item has the mark beside it, that's supposed to mean that the food is a healthy choice.

Restaurants pay a licensing fee have the Check on their menu, and have to meet certain criteria in order to qualify for it.

A recommended daily amount of sodium is less than 1500 mg per day — but last season, Wendy Mesley toured grocery aisles and found lots of Health-Checked items that turned out to be high in sodium.

So what about those restaurant chain meals? Does the Heart and Stroke’s check of approval mean these restaurant meals are really low in sodium?

Wendy Mesley puts Health Check's claims to the test.

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Posted on March 20, 2009 CommentBookmark, Email & Share
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Would be great if a person could know for sure how much sodium is in the foods served in the restaurant. I find it quite amazing that well trained chefs have to use so much salt to flavour their dishes when it is so easy to make things taste good without salt.

It is possible to eat well with less than 1500 mgm. of sodium in your diet. Bread can be purchased with only 140mgm. of salt per slice. 4 slices then would only contain 560mgm.

Please whatever you do Wendy,keep up the good work...someone has to keep the Heart and Stroke Foundation's feet to the fire.

I found this report poor and misleading for consumers. How you can tell us we have to eat less than 1500 mg sodium per day when 4 bread slices can be close to 1200 mg sodium??? This is not realistic with the actual market and VERY not realistic in restaurants. You will find that not a big amount of restaurant declare the nutritional value of their meal publicly and because it must be tasty, fat, sugar and sodium are often high. If not, nobody will eat these meals.
The sodium limit is actually 2300 mg per day and Blood Pressure Canada recommends that Canadians reduce their daily sodium consumption between 1500 mg to 2300 mg by 2020!! Hope than food industry and restaurant will understand and start reducing gradually sodium in their foods.

I believe Health Check is a good tool to keep in your tool box when shopping and dining out. Just keep in mind it is a marketing program for food producers and restaurants. Products/menu items that get a Health Check rating are very often significantly better for you than regular items, but that doesn't make them the best option. In the grocery aisle, read the label of all brands, before dining out, check the restaurant website, many of them including Boston Pizza have their nutrition facts on the web, or you can email and request them.

Keep up the good work on your "Busted" series. This one on Health check was of great interest. I would like to suggest a piece on CBC executive bonuses, as I read in today's Star that they are being cut in half. Perhaps taxpayers should hear more about this issue of executive compensation within our public broadcasting system. Thank you.

How can you "bust" a company for meeting or exceeding Health Check standards? If they were using the Health Check logo without meeting the standards, that would be a real story.

I am a regular customer of Boston Pizza, so maybe I am biased. Still, I know they have nutritional info in their restaurants for anyone who wants it.

As a culture, we're all guilty of pleading ignorance to what we're really consuming, and then pointing the finger at the people who sell it to us. People who are really concerned about sodium intake are probably eating most of their meals at home.

You never told me/the viewer what an average restaurant meal contains in terms of sodium content so I had no idea to judge where these meals stand relative to the average meal that I eat. I would be very curiuous to know as I fear that the average restaurant meal is much, much higher in sodium than the healthy heart meal selections.

Couldn't we pass legislation that will put in a cap on the amount of sodium per serving.

Bravo - please keep up the fight on salty restaurant food - WHY, WHY, WHY do they use so-o-o much salt? - to make it tasty is the answer I assume - my friends laugh at me as I am always commenting on how salty the food is when I eat out - high sodium content and high blood pressure go hand in hand - surely the restaurant associations know this - would be great if they could, in some way highlight this to their members and make lowering salt content a top priority - packaged foods and ready-made take-out foods also travel on the salt bandwagon - get with it world, we need some salt in our bodies but not the amount tossed into all these above foods.

If you are wondering, and I am sure you are, YES, I have high blood pressure and have been watching my salt intake for many years.

Just recently I watch your televised article on these door-to-door energy companies. From the first second I started watching everything was relating to my experience, Deception. Now I'm locked into a 5yr contract that was full of promises and gaurentees on savings, but I'm yet to save any money. I personally beleive that my contract should not be legal since they haven't held up their side of the deal, to save me money. Now I'm trying to find a way out of this BS contract, I just don't know where to start.What legel rights do I have to fight with? And why does our government not step in and put their foot down on these door-to-door conartists. Thank for listening

The health check symbol needs to be busted again.

Take a look at any food you find in a grocery store with the "Health Check" symbol on it. 9 times out of 10 it will also have a cross beside it, suggesting there is more to be found out. Look at the back for the cross again and the symbol's secrets will be revealed. After some preamble in hopes you'll stop reading: "[This company] financially supports the Health Check education program. This is not an endorsement."

So basically you just have to pay the Heart and Stroke foundation enough money and they'll let trick consumers into thinking your food is healthy.

Your program tonight effectively " busted " healthcheck, and Boston Pizza. It was very unfair to Druxy's, White Spot, and Swiss Chalet in that no data was presented on their foods. Why were these companies highlighted? Were they exonerated? Are they guilty by association? A very confusing and perhaps misleading report to the consumer. Maybe you need more than 30 minutes to do a complete report.

So, are we to understand that the Heart and Stroke Foundation has sold out? Quality control of the heart check symbol now means that the product may or may not be OK for us who have cardiac illness. Do tell, please.

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