American Heart Association® Heart-Check Food Certification Program

Use the reputation and powerful brand awareness of the American Heart Association® to create a competitive point of difference

Now your shoppers can feel ever better about choosing beef - the American Heart Association® has certified extra-lean beef cuts that meet its requirements for heart-healthy foods as part of an overall healthy dietary pattern, and are certified to display the Heart-Check mark.* This certification allows participating retailers to display the American Heart Association's® Heart-Check mark on fresh beef packages, promoting beef's role in a healthy diet and helping nutrition-conscious shoppers make healthy choices in the meat case.

Why should our company participate?
Which cuts are currently certified with the Beef Checkoff trade association certification?
How do I get started?
What resources are available?
What are the potential benefits?
How have other retailers successfully launched the program?

Beef Up Your Bottom Line

The American Heart Association® Heart-Check mark is a proven sales driver. Research shows that 3 in 4 consumers who are familiar with the Heart-Check mark are more likely to purchase foods that feature the Heart-Check mark, regardless of age or kids in their household.**

Help Your Customers Be Heart-Smart

The Heart-Check mark is used by 72 million adults (30% of the population) to make decisions about selecting foods and beverages.*** You play a key role in influencing shoppers and your customers rely on you for information that helps them make informed, nutritious decisions. By combining the respected reputation and powerful brand awareness of the American Heart Association® with great-tasting, nutritious extra lean beef that consumers know and love, certification helps qualifying cuts stand out as healthy options in the meat case.

Meet the Certified Beef Cuts

Nine fresh beef cuts are certified to display the coveted Heart-Check mark, signifying they meet the American Heart Association's® criteria for heart-healthy foods as part of an overall healthy dietary pattern:
Extra Lean Ground Beef (96% lean, 4% fat)
Bottom Round Steak (USDA Select grade)
Sirloin Steak (Solution Added)
Sirloin Tip Steak (USDA Select grade)
Top Sirloin Petite Roast, Boneless (USDA Select grade)
Top Sirloin Strips (USDA Select grade)
Top Sirloin Filet (USDA Select grade)
Top Sirloin Kabob (USDA Select grade)
Top Sirloin Steak, Boneless, Center Cut (USDA Select grade)

With many of America’s favorite beef cuts already meeting government guidelines for lean, the future is bright for raising awareness of the positive role that beef, America's favorite protein, plays in a healthful, delicious diet.

Get Involved in a Heart Beat

By working with the Beef Checkoff Program, retailers and beef processors can enjoy simplified participation in the American Heart Association® Food Certification Program at no cost. The Beef Checkoff will pay all fees to display the Heart-Check mark on pack for any of these 9 extra-lean beef cuts.

Follow these easy steps to apply for certification through the Beef Checkoff:

  1. Contact Cheryl Hendricks at or 303-850-3372 to discuss your products and sublicense certification process.
  2. Completion of the Sublicense Agreement.  
  3. Obtain a Certificate of Insurance (COI) designating the American Heart Association® as an additional insured party from a qualified insurance carrier in the amount of $5,000,000 for general liability, products liability and personal injury. Certificate holder Name/Address: 
    American Heart Association
    7272 Greenville Avenue
    Dallas, TX 5231
  4. Share a copy of packaging labels with Heart-Check logo and Nutrition Facts Panel for each product for sublicense. Packaging labels are required to comply with USDA labeling requirements and will be reviewed by the American Heart Association® for compliance with their style guidelines.
  5. Comply with Lab Analysis requirements for Extra Lean Ground Beef. Extra Lean Ground Beef hits American Heart Association® lab testing trigger requirement for Total Fat and Saturated Fat. Lab results (one 12-sample composite result) for Fatty Acid Profile are required.

Use of the Heart-Check mark on marketing materials

Once certified, any use of the Heart-Check mark or mention of certification on product packaging or marketing materials must be approved by the American Heart Association®. This also includes promotional materials such as web site, brochures, in-store signage, etc. The Beef Checkoff team can provide creative and print-ready files on some limited promotional items bearing the Heart-Check mark. Customized promotion materials will require a separate license agreement with the American Heart Association® certification team. Fees do apply and are based on company sales revenue. For information contact Ashley Birdsall at   

Turning Insight into Action

In the toolbox to the right, you’ll find the program elements to appeal to your health-minded customers and boost beef sales such as cutting videos, on-pack labels and POS which can be purchased for use upon certification.

Program Benefits

  • Leverage one of the most trusted nutrition icons on food packaging today 
  • Reinforce the power of extra lean beef and create added awareness of extra lean beef cuts
  • Appeal to health-minded shoppers and demonstrate that you care about their food choices
  • Support from the Beef Checkoff retail marketing team throughout the American Heart Association® Food Certification application process

Retailer Spotlights

A recent in-market test with two select retailers, a middle-America grocery chain and a regional grocery chain across the Southeast, evaluated the impact of the American Heart Association® Certification program elements on consumer awareness and shopping behaviors. This study found consumers very receptive to spotlighting cuts with an American Heart Association® certifi¬cation on-pack.

A summary of the in-market test can be found here.

*Based on 4 oz raw/ 3 oz cooked (as product packaged)
**American Heart Association®. Healthy Living Rewards. May 2016, SSI.
***American Heart Association®. Food Certification Strategy. Sept. 2014, FoodMinds

Please note that the Heart-Check Food Certification does not apply to  recipes or links to other information unless expressly stated.  For more information, see the American Heart Association® nutrition guidelines at:

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