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Dairy Products - Making Kiwis Tick!

21 April 2006

Dairy Products - Making Kiwis Tick!

Dairy gets health makeover with new Heart Foundation Tick nutrition standards

Dairy lovers will be delighted to discover that some of their favourite foods are even healthier than before, with tougher new nutrition criteria set by the Heart Foundation Tick Programme.

The Tick Programme has raised the nutritional bar in the yoghurt, dairy dessert and milk and milk alternatives categories by setting new standards. Maximum levels of saturated fat and energy and minimum levels of calcium have been introduced as part of the ongoing development of nutrition standards across all Tick food categories.

As an important source of essential nutrients including protein and calcium, dairy is a major part of most New Zealanders' diets, with Kiwis ranked as the world's fifth highest milk consumers.*

Full-fat dairy products have the potential to contribute a significant amount of fat, particularly saturated fat to the diet. Flavoured dairy products can be high in energy from added sugar, fruit mixes or flavourings. And according to the Ministry of Health National Children's Nutrition Survey, 12.2 per cent of boys and 18.2 per cent of girls aged five to 14 have inadequate calcium intakes.

By measuring and controlling saturated fat, calcium and energy in many dairy products, the new Tick standards significantly impact the New Zealand food supply.

To meet the new standards, the manufacturer of the dairy food Calci Yum reduced its energy levels by ten per cent, and in doing so, the total fat and saturated fat levels were more than halved. With 5.5million units of Calci Yum sold annually, a total of eight tonnes of fat was shed from the food supply. As part of the reformulation, the manufacturer also added more calcium and vitamins A and D.

"Manufacturers have embraced the Tick's mission to improve the food supply and provided healthier options, with a range of exciting flavour varieties that are enjoyed by kids and adults alike," commented Ian Mathieson, Heart Foundation Tick Programme Manager. "Dairy makes up a significant proportion of the 950 products on the Tick Programme, and there are more than 50 types of milk, yoghurt, dairy desserts, flavoured and unflavoured milks now approved."

"Over the past five to 10 years, the dairy industry has responded well to demand for products that are lower in saturated fat, with many more reduced fat options for milks, yoghurts and dairy desserts," he added.

"But there is still scope for improvement. The efforts in this category and other dairy categories are critical because of the large amount of dairy products in our diets. So the consumption of healthier varieties needs to be encouraged."

Tick nutrition standards are specific for each of the Programme's 55 food categories. Over the past three years, each category's criterion has been reviewed to ensure relevance to current nutritional science and the marketplace. New Tick criteria for other dairy categories - ice creams, frozen desserts and cheeses - will be released this year.

The Heart Foundation Tick Programme has launched a new healthier eating resource for New Zealanders, with an informative website, and Tick Club. Tick Club members register via the website to receive healthier eating news and information.

*Source: Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Canadian Dairy Information Centre.

How much do we eat? **
More than twice as much full-fat than reduced-fat milk is consumed by New Zealanders each week - but women are more likely to choose reduced-fat than men.

More than a third (35%) eat yoghurt at least once a week - and the biggest yoghurt lovers are women.

Flavoured milk is popular, with one in ten New Zealanders consuming it at least once a week.

Dairy desserts are eaten once a week by 21% per cent of Kiwis.

New Zealand children (aged five to 14) consume three times as much full fat as reduced fat milks.

38% of New Zealand children drink milk every day and 34% every week.

22% of Kiwi kids have flavoured milk at least once a week and twice as many children as adults drink flavoured milk.

**Figures taken from the NZ Food NZ Children, The Ministry of Health's 2002 National Children's Nutrition Survey, and NZ Food: NZ People. The Ministry of Health's 1997 National Nutrition Survey.

About the Tick Programme
The Tick Programme is run by the Heart Foundation, a scientifically based, not for profit organisation.

Products carrying the Heart Foundation Tick logo signpost a healthier product in that food category (for example, bread with the Tick is a healthier choice of bread, breakfast cereal with the Tick is a healthier choice of breakfast cereal).

The Heart Foundation uses a panel of experts to establish nutrition standards in 55 different food categories and the nutrition standards are tailored to each category.

In general, the Tick nutrition standards aim to reduce levels of saturated fat, trans fat and salt. They also aim to increase fibre levels in some foods and reduce kilojoules in foods like cereal bars and flavoured milks.

Foods that meet the Heart Foundation Tick nutrition standards can be licensed to join the Tick Programme. Each product that applies for the Tick is tested in an independent laboratory to prove it meets the standards.

Food manufacturers must meet the Heart Foundation Tick nutrition standards to get the Tick. Random testing on Tick products is regularly carried out by the Heart Foundation to ensure products always comply with the standards.

Food manufacturers are charged a licence fee based on the annual sales of their Tick approved products. Tick licence fees pay for the administration and management of the Tick Programme and also pay for random testing of Tick approved foods and the ongoing research required to develop the nutrition standards.


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