Heart Foundation Tick

The Tick is a front-of-pack labeling programme dedicated to helping Kiwis make healthier food choices. The Tick logo supports you in your grocery shopping and encourages food manufacturers to improve the nutrition of their products.

Find out more about the Heart Foundation Tick programme and how it can help you make healthier food choices.

What does the Tick and Two Ticks mean?

You may have seen the Tick or Two Ticks logo on products in the supermarket and wondered what they mean. Foods with the Tick represent products that are a healthier choice compared to similar foods, whereas Two Tick signposts 'core' foods, those that should make up most of your shopping basket. 

All products that carry the Tick logo or Two Ticks logo are independently tested to ensure they meet our strict nutrient criteria. The Tick nutrient criteria are regularly reviewed. Changes and new categories are introduced to address emerging science, research and development,  healthy eating habits, nutritional issues and public health priorities. Where appropriate, the criteria are made incrementally tougher to further challenge industry and ensure ongoing improvements to our food supply.

In October 2016, the Heart Foundation made the decision to retire the Tick due to changes across the nutrition landscape in New Zealand.

While the Tick is moving off supermarket shelves, the Heart Foundation will continue to be a trusted voice in the food and nutrition space through our existing activities. Behind the scenes we will continue to work with companies to reduce sugar and sodium in a number of food categories.

We will continue to help Kiwis to create nutritious meals using whole and less processed ingredients and to make healthier choices through our recipes and visual food guide

Looking at the ‘nutrition information panel’ can help you make healthier food choices when comparing similar products. To make things simple we recommend choosing products which contain the least amount of saturated fat, sugar and sodium - and trans fat per 100g. If you are watching your weight, also look for foods that contain less energy (calories/kilojoules).

The Health Stars will be appearing more and more on food packaging and will help guide you on better choices. At this stage you’ll still see the Tick on foods for up to two years. We’re not expecting food companies that have had the Tick on their products to suddenly reformulate them and add more saturated fat, sodium or sugar in them so you can stick with the products you know and trust.

Tools such as the nutrition information panel and Health Stars can be helpful to guide healthier choices, but remember, it is important to also consider the whole food and the ingredient list when making your decision.

Learn more about how to read food labels

All Tick-approved foods must be independently tested and proven to meet strict Heart Foundation nutrient criteria. The criteria is reviewed regularly by an external group of food, nutrition and health experts. Two Ticks uses stricter criteria than the Tick and looks at foods as a whole (rather than looking at specific nutrients).

Here is an example of Tick criteria for breakfast cereals. To be eligible for the Tick, a cereal must contain:

  • No more than 800kJ of energy in each serve
  • No more than 1.5g of saturated fat (unhealthy fat) per serve
  • No partially hydrogenated fat; or no more than 0.2g/100g of trans fat
  • No more than 25% total sugar
  • No more than 400mg/100g of sodium and
  • At least 3g of fibre per serve, or, the product must contain at least 50% whole grain.

An independent criteria working group which includes leaders in nutrition, food science and public health, develop and review the criteria. Tick partners and food manufacturers are consulted as part of the review process, however, they are excluded from the criteria working group.

Setting and reviewing the nutrient criteria for each category involves:

  • An audit of nutritional values for products in the current marketplace
  • Considering relevant food regulations, healthy eating policies and recommendations from the Heart Foundation and Ministry of Health
  • Consulting with food industry over technology constraints, market trends and consumer acceptance factors
  • Developing nutritional objectives and proposed criteria for each category
  • Assessing the proposed criteria against current market nutritional values to determine its feasibility
  • Presenting the proposed criteria to the criteria working group who make a decision on the final criteria.

Health Stars are a front-of-pack labelling system designed to identify healthier choices within broad food categories. The star rating is calculated using an algorithm that takes into consideration positive and negative nutrients for a particular food.

While complementary, Health Stars and the Tick programme are different front-of-pack labelling programmes. The Ministry for Primary Industries' Health Star Rating System is self-administered by food companies and overseen by government, whereas the Tick programme is endorsed and administered by the Heart Foundation. It is important to note that the Tick is the only front-of-pack labelling system that is independently tested with regular auditing and compliance, to ensure what is stated on the label reflects the true nutrient content of the food. Both the Tick programme and Health Stars should be used to compare similar products within food categories. 

We believe that the Heart Foundation Tick and Health Stars programmes complement each other, and will continue to help Kiwis make healthier food choices.

Learn more about the Tick programme, how we evaluate it and what Tick resources are available for your waiting room.

The Tick programme aims to improve the nutritional profile of our food supply in a direction that is consistent with the Heart Foundation and Ministry of Health nutrition policies. It works on the basis that to have an impact on public health it must be present in a variety of popular food categories.

What is the aim of the Tick nutrient criteria?

The criteria aims to address nutritional priorities relevant to each food category. It intends to be challenging, yet achievable. It aims to:

1. Encourage appropriate serve size.

2. Decrease levels of one or more of:

  • Energy (KJ)
  • Saturated fat, trans fat, partially hydrogenated fat
  • Sodium
  • Sugar.

 3. Increase levels of one or more of:

  • Dietary fibre and/or whole grains
  • Calcium (for dairy and dairy alternatives e.g. soy milk)
  • Key ingredient content (e.g. percentage fruit, vegetable or seafood).

To help improve the New Zealand food supply, it’s important to balance the complexity of industry reformulation with consumer demand and choice. Appealing to both of these groups is key to achieving our public health goals.

How do we evaluate the Tick?

The nutrient criteria for Tick and Two Ticks are reviewed regularly. Changes and new categories are introduced to address emerging science, research and development, eating habits, nutritional issues and public health priorities.

We evaluate the Tick through feedback from consumers, health professionals and food industry. Here is the recently published research (PDF) on the impact of the Tick on food product reformulation and formulation.

Download our Health Professionals Update (PDF) for more information.

Ask us a question about Tick