Friday, August 16, 2013

American Heart Association Accused of Accepting Payments to Allow Undeserving Products to Use "Heart-Healthy" Label

The American Heart Association has been accused, in a lawsuit filed against the Campell Soup Company, of allowing products that are not heart-healthy according to its own standards to display the "Heart-Healthy" label in exchange for financial payments.

According to the AP story: "A new lawsuit is contesting the validity of the heart-healthy claims on some cans of Campbell’s soups. At the center of the federal lawsuit is the ‘‘Heart-Check’’ certification by the American Heart Association, and whether it rightfully conveys that a product carries particular health benefits. The lawsuit says the nonprofit group lets Campbell and other companies use the ‘‘Heart-Check’’ label on products that run counter to its stated mission, in exchange for fees. The American Heart Association says its goal is to fight cardiovascular diseases and stroke."

"To earn its ‘‘Heart-Check’’ certification, the group’s website states that products must have no more than 480 milligrams of sodium per serving. But the website also notes elsewhere that ‘‘low sodium’’ is defined as having 140 milligrams or less per serving, the lawsuit notes. ‘‘The AHA, for a fee, abandons its general, non-commercial dietary and nutritional guidelines,’’ the lawsuit states. A can of Campbell’s ‘‘Healthy Request’’ condensed Chicken Noodle Soup, which bears the certification mark in question, is listed as having 410 milligrams of sodium per half-cup serving. The lawsuit notes that there are two or more servings per can, meaning there would be at least 820 milligrams of sodium in a can. ... The lawsuit states that the AHA’s seal of approval misleads people into thinking in that products made by Campbell ‘‘possess some cardiovascular benefit not enjoyed by products that have not been certified by the AHA.’’ It states the only difference is that Campbell pays money for the certification."

The Rest of the Story

What the American Heart Association is doing is nothing short of fraud. And the most despicable part of their behavior is that they are essentially being paid off to partner with corporations to commit this fraud. Money, not the public's health, is apparently the driving force behind the American Heart Association's actions.

I'm sorry, but there is simply no way that a can of soup that contains 820 milligrams of sodium (one half of an entire day's limit for "heart health") should have a heart-healthy label. The fraud, of course, is that the American Heart Association allows corporations to base the label on one serving of the product, rather than one can. But how many people do you know who pour out half a bottle of Campbell's soup and then put the remainder away for a different day?

By allowing companies to use very small amounts of food (in this case, just one cup) as a serving size, the American Heart Association is defrauding the American consumer. This might not be so bad if it weren't the case that the Heart Association is apparently being paid off. What a scam.

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