Response to Rosemary Stanton ("When a healthy Tick shouldn't be a Tick", On Line Opinion, February 22, 2008).
Some people think the sole solution to healthy eating is to keep telling us to buy fresh foods. Yes, it is an important message but messages alone don't change behaviour and reality cannot be ignored.
Reality for most of us is about trying to do the right thing, but sometimes busy lives necessitate shortcuts. So there are times when we opt for a ready meal instead of preparing steak and salad, or we grab a pizza after a long day at work.
That's why you'll find the Tick on a range of foods that Australians eat - from lean meat to meat pies and breakfast cereals to cereal bars.
But claiming the Tick should not be providing healthier options across the range of food products ignores the reality for most Australians.
The Heart Foundation has spent several years studying where, when and what Australians eat and identifying how best we can help.
Australians eat 2.7 million meals at large fast food restaurants every day and one in every $3 we spend on food is on meals prepared outside our homes. For the Heart Foundation to make a real difference we must push for nutritional improvements in outlets where Australians eat often.
McDonald's serves 1.2 million people a day, takeaway pizza chains sell 190 million pizzas a year and almost 90 per cent of Australians told us they wanted Tick-approved options at burger chains, pizza chains, chicken chains and sandwich bars.
After one year, healthier meals are now available to more than eight and half million Australian customers every week at Qantas, McDonald's, Crust Gourmet Pizza Bars, Delaware North (who supply Melbourne's Rod Laver Arena) and Sodexho (for their workplace canteens).
Already, tonnes of saturated fat, trans fat and salt have been removed from the Australian food supply and tons of fibre and vegetables have been added.
The Tick delivers real nutritional benefits and significantly healthier foods:
- Australians were among the first in the world to be able to access a huge range of margarines with less than 1 per cent trans fat (half the level permitted by Denmark), thanks to Tick's standards;
- a Tick pizza at Crust has one third of the salt and saturated fat of the leading national chains; and
- McDonald's Deli Choice bread rolls have 40 per cent less sodium than they used to, removing 12.9 tonnes of sodium from our food supply in just six months. Half these rolls (whether Tick approved or not) are now ordered on multigrain which has twice the fibre of their white rolls - a new choice offered as a result of Tick's standards.
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