Nutrient Criteria - Restaurants

The Health Check program is based on criteria developed by the Heart and Stroke Foundation’s registered dietitians. Using Canada’s Food Guide, the Foundation’s dietitians created nutrient criteria with the goal of improving the overall health and wellness of Canadians. As a pro-active program, Health Check’s nutrient criteria has evolved, taking into consideration developments in health science, nutrition trends and the eating habits of Canadians.

Restaurant Criteria and Implementation

Each menu item is reviewed by the Heart and Stroke Foundation’s registered dietitians to ensure the food meets all Health Check nutrient criteria.

Changes to Nutrient Criteria

Changes to the Health Check nutrient criteria were recently announced. The criteria changes for all existing Health Check menu items must take effect by the dates identified or forfeit participation in the Health Check program. The Heart and Stroke Foundation encourages all existing licensees to implement the menu item reformulations as soon as possible. All new menu items entering the program must reflect the new criteria immediately.

Effective Date

Nutrient Criteria


  • Criteria for fat, sodium, fibre, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals.

December 28th, 2009

  • Nutrient criteria have been added for the first time for trans fat and changes have been made to the existing criteria for sodium.
  • 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.

November 1st, 2010

  • 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.
  • Sodium criteria were reduced for most of the menu item categories in the previous round of changes which are effective December 28, 2009 (see above). A change in sodium criteria for soups in the restaurant program has also been announced, reducing it from the current level of 650 mg per 250 mL serving to 480 mg.

 In addition restaurants must:

  • Create standards and procedures for food preparation.
  • Agree to random testing of their Health Check menu items.
  • Include a brief message on the menu that explains why the items are part of a healthy diet.
  • Make available nutrition facts information for each Health Check menu item.

Each menu item is reviewed by the team of Heart and Stroke Foundation registered dietitians to ensure the food meets all nutrient criteria. Only then will it be identified with the Health Check symbol.

Our dietitians will work with companies to provide suggestions on recipe reformulations for a menu to meet the criteria. Materials are provided to restaurants in the Health Check program to assist with staff training. Health Check helps you every step of the way!

Tips of the Week

Stock up on fruits that are in season and preserve them or freeze for use later on in the year.

Recipe of the Week

Quinoa and Bean Salad

Question of the Week

Are canned and frozen fruits and vegetables good or bad for you?
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