Grocery Program - Nutrient Criteria


The Heart and Stroke Foundation’s Health Check program is committed to helping Canadians identify healthy food choices. The Health Check nutrient criteria developed by the Heart and Stroke Foundation’s registered dietitians are based on Canada’s Food Guide and also reflect the latest scientific evidence, labelling regulations, nutrition trends, eating habits of Canadians, market realities and technology.  Because these areas have evolved, Health Check has made a number of changes to its nutrient criteria, which are rolling out in two phases. The first set of changes which were announced in December 2007, are based on the recent revisions to Canada’s Food Guide and will take effect by December 28, 2009. The second set of changes focus on reducing sodium and must be in place by November 1, 2010.

Changes effective December 28, 2009

As a result of the update to Canada’s Food Guide, the Heart and Stroke Foundation has made a number of changes to existing criteria and introduced new criteria. Health Check’s Technical Advisory Committee, made up of registered dietitians and nutrition experts from across the country have developed and recommended these additions and changes.

Nutrient criteria have been added for the first time for trans fat and sugar, and changes have been made to the existing criteria for fat, sodium and fibre. The trans fat criteria are based on Health Canada’s acceptance of the Trans Fat Task Force’s recommendation that processed trans fats be limited to no more than 5% of total fat. While most products in the program already meet the new criteria, a few companies may have to reformulate their product(s) in order to stay in the program.

Changes effective November 1, 2010

The Heart and Stroke Foundation has played a key role in a coordinated, national effort to reduce the amount of sodium Canadians consume as it is a contributing factor to high blood pressure, which is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke. Most Canadians consume far more sodium than is healthy.

The Heart and Stroke Foundation was one of 17 leading health organizations in Canada to endorse a National Sodium Policy Statement developed by Blood Pressure Canada with the goal of reducing the daily sodium consumption of adult Canadians to between 1200 and 2300 mg by January 2020.  Health Check is committed to playing a role in helping Canadians reach these challenging goals by working with food companies to reduce the sodium in our food supply. As a result the Health Check nutrient criteria will continue to evolve for all existing food categories and take into account the latest science, labelling regulations, nutrition trends, eating habits of Canadians, market realities and technologies. 


The criteria changes for all existing Health Check products must take effect by the dates identified. All products currently in the program must meet the new criteria levels by this date or forfeit participation in the Health Check program. The Heart and Stroke Foundation encourages all existing licensees to implement the product reformulations as soon as possible. All new products entering the program must reflect the new criteria immediately. 

A summary of the criteria is available for all food categories. This document outlines the current criteria for each food category, the new criteria for trans fats and sugar and the revisions for fat, sodium and fibre that must be in place by December 28, 2009, as well as the criteria for sodium reductions effective as of November 1, 2010. 

Different food categories have different nutrient criteria.  When applicable, the criteria are defined using Health Canada's Nutrient Content Claims .  

To earn the Health Check symbol, all products must meet the nutrient criteria for the specific Health Check Serving Size and the on-package serving size. Our team of registered dietitians are happy to answer any questions around the nutrient criteria for the Health Check program.
Last Updated ( Monday, 06 October 2008 )
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