Three additional fresh beef cuts now are certified to display the American Heart Association's Heart-Check mark, according to the Beef Checkoff Program.
With that, retailers have the opportunity to market a total of six different extra-lean beef items to shoppers using one of the most trusted nutrition icons on food packaging today.
The extra-lean beef cuts that meet the American Heart Association's criteria for heart-healthy foods as part of an overall healthy dietary pattern, and are certified to display the Heart-Check mark include the following USDA Select grade cuts: Sirloin Tip Steak; Bottom Round Steak; Top Sirloin Stir-Fry; Boneless Top Sirloin Petite Roast; Top Sirloin Filet; and Top Sirloin Kabob.
"Having the American Heart Association certify three additional extra-lean beef cuts is yet another important milestone in the beef checkoff's efforts to help consumers understand the positive health and nutritional benefits of beef," says Jeanne Harland, beef producer from Illinois and chairman of the checkoff's Nutrition and Health Subcommittee.
Harland continued, "Using strong science-based guidelines and criteria, the American Heart Association has now certified six different beef cuts, and we will continue to support and apply scientific evidence to show consumers how they can eat healthfully with extra-lean beef."
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans and leading health organizations, including the American Heart Association, recognize lean meat as a nutritious food and a single serving of lean meat can be part of a healthy diet and lifestyle.
"Independent research and this certification from the American Heart Association confirms to consumers that extra-lean beef can be a building block in an overall heart-healthy diet," says Cheryl Hendricks, a registered dietitian with the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, contractor for the Beef Checkoff Program.
Hendricks added, "We know that consumers are looking to retailers as a trusted source of nutrition information. Displaying the American Heart Association Heart-Check mark in the meat case makes it easier for consumers to identify heart-healthy extra-lean beef and as a result, grow beef sales among health-conscious shoppers."
Hundreds of stores across the U.S. currently display the Heart-Check mark on certified beef items in the meat case and retailers can work with the Beef Checkoff Program to participate in the American Heart Association Food Certification Program to receive significant cost savings.
Integrated promotional tools are available to help retailers merchandise the certified cuts where it matters most - the point of purchase.
Resources such as on-pack labels, posters and recipes help make healthier choices with extra-lean beef cuts in the meat case and, ultimately, generate fresh beef sales.
In fact, nearly 75 percent of shoppers say the Heart-Check mark improves the likelihood that they'll buy a product and boosts incremental sales an average of 5 percent when point-of-sale materials are used to promote certified products.
Supermarket chain K-V-A-T Food Stores signed up to participate in the program in 2011 and offers American Heart Association-certified beef products in 94 of its stores.
"We're extremely pleased with the results we've seen through the American Heart Association certification program," said Steve Holloway, director of meat and seafood operations for K-V-A-T Food Stores, Inc.
He added, "The on-pack labels and merchandising support from the Beef Checkoff have proved valuable in educating our shoppers that they can still eat extra-lean beef as part of a healthy lifestyle. It's been an opportunity to bring consumers back to the category and, as a result, we've seen our extra-lean beef sales soar."
For more information about the beef checkoff investment, visit MyBeefCheckoff.com.
The American Heart Association established the Heart-Check mark in 1995 to give consumers an easy, reliable system for identifying heart-healthy foods as a first step in building a sensible eating plan.
More than 900 products that bear the Heart-Check mark have been screened and verified by the association to meet criteria for heart-healthy foods as part of an overall healthy dietary pattern. To learn more about the Heart-Check mark, and to see a complete list of certified products and participating companies, visit HeartCheckMark.org.