Authors: Registered Dietitians
(HealthCastle.com) Harvey's, the Canadian fast food burger chain, now offers four meal combos that feature the Heart and Stroke Foundation's Health Check logo. So, does that mean these fast food meals are good for you?
What the Health Check Standards Say
I was really surprised that fast food meals were being advertised with the Health Check logo, so I took a close look at the Health Check criteria.
My first impression was that they are too complicated with too many variables – they have different requirements for different sizes and categories of menu items. For example, pizza is allowed to have more fat, less protein, and more sodium per gram than other types of food. That doesn't make sense to me: The guidelines for what's healthy to put into your body shouldn't vary based on whether you're eating a pizza or a burger.
My second impression was that the standards allow a shocking amount of sodium! Nine hundred mg of sodium in one meal is considered high. Yet, the Health Check standards allow 960 mg sodium for entrees over 350 grams or for pizza servings over 250 grams. That's a lot of sodium!
What's in the Harvey's Meals
Harvey's has four meal options that meet the Health Check standards. Here's how they stack up:
- Veggie burger with side salad: 470 calories, 14 g fat, 27 g protein, 930 mg sodium
- Grilled chicken burger with side salad: 400 calories, 7 g fat, 33 g protein, 950 mg sodium
- "L'il Original" burger with side salad: 380 calories, 15 g fat, 15 g protein, 690 mg sodium
- Entree-size chicken salad: 210 calories, 5 g fat, 15 g protein, 690 mg sodium
So, two of the four options have more than 900 mg of sodium. To me, that's still far too much sodium to consume in one meal, considered that the same organization that approves these logos (i.e. Heart & Stroke) recommends a daily intake of sodium to be no more than 2300 mg. Plus, I have to wonder how many people will really eat these combos as they are designed, rather than choosing fries instead of a side salad or adding pop to drink. It seems to me that most people expect pop to be included when ordering a fast food combo meal. Adding a regular Pepsi would add 260 calories from sugary syrup.
The Bottom Line
It's true that one fast food burger is not likely to cause severe heart damage. But to me, the Health Check logo should be reserved for natural food that is actually good for you – not fast food products that just squeak in under some bizarre, complicated limits.
Tell us: Will you try these Health Check menu items at Harvey's? What do you think about using the Health Check logo to advertise fast food?