Five things you might be surprised to hear about the Heart FoundationTick

By Guest Blogger, Lucy Elliott, Campaign Manager, Healthy Hearts, The Heart Foundation.

As a Campaign Manager at the Heart Foundation, I often get asked questions by friends about the Tick. Many are surprised by my responses. With this in mind, I thought I’d make it the focus for my guest post.

Fact One – The Tick is aimed at all Australians – not those with heart disease

The Heart Foundation Tick aims to help all Australians make healthier food choices. We achieve this in two ways:

1. As a trusted, independent not-for-profit program, Tick works with food manufacturers to improve the nutritional profile of the foods we eat.

Tick does this by setting nutrient criteria standards for foods that manufacturers are encouraged to meet by reformulating their products. Once a food has met the standards, it is allowed to include the Tick logo on its packaging.

2. The Tick, through Mums United (, also aims to remind consumers of the importance of including foods like vegetables, legumes and fruit, breads and cereals, reduced fat dairy products, lean meats and mono- and poly-unsaturated fats and oils as part of a healthy diet. The Tick also appears on a range of these everyday foods.

Fact Two – The Tick criteria ensures there is plenty of “good stuff” within a product as well as limiting the “bad”

Every product that earns the Tick has to meet strict nutritional criteria. The criteria not only limit the amount of unhealthy nutrients – saturated fat, trans fat, sodium (salt) found in a food, it also sets minimum levels for beneficial ingredients like fibre, calcium, wholegrains and vegetables.

Fact Three – All fresh fruit and vegetables, plain grain foods and eggs are eligible for the Tick

In total, more than 2,000 products have earned the Heart Foundation Tick. Even though they might not always carry the logo, all fresh fruit and vegetables, plain grain foods and eggs are eligible for the Tick.

 Fact Four –  The Tick Program is NOT funded by public donations to the Heart Foundation

As a not-for-profit, non-government organisation, the Heart Foundation collects licence fees to support the operation of the Tick Program. The Tick is a Certified Licensing Program; every product (no exceptions) must meet our strict criteria to earn the Tick.

In short, the Tick cannot be bought.

Tick licensee fees cover the costs of running the Program and include:

  • Regular random audits
  • Criteria development and review
  • Public education about healthy eating
  • Supporting national nutrition research
  • Administration of the Tick Program.

Licence fees are based on the sales of a company’s Tick approved products to allow all food manufacturers equal access to the Tick.

Fact Five – Not all products with the Heart Foundation Tick should be eaten every day

The Tick appears on a number of occasional foods.  These are foods that, according to the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating, are best eaten only sometimes and in small amounts. Allowing these foods to carry the Tick recognises that, when it comes to food, everyone enjoys an occasional treat.  When we do indulge, the Tick is there to guide us towards the healthier choice.  This could be a meat pie that is lower in saturated fat and sodium than others in the supermarket freezer, or ice cream lower in energy and saturated fat and higher in calcium.

By setting nutrition standards for non-core or occasional foods, the Tick Program actively encourages manufacturers to reformulate their products to be lower in nutrients like saturated fat and sodium (salt), and higher in health protecting ingredients, like vegetables and fibre.  This is good news for all people who want to look after their health and still enjoy an occasional treat.

Moroccan meatballs with vegetable couscous

An easy family favourite that can be made with Tick approved ingredients.

Serves 4
Cooking time: 35-40 minutes

500g extra lean beef mince*
2 tsp ground paprika
1 tsp ground cumin
2 tbs reduced fat natural yoghurt*
1 small bunch mint, finely chopped
Cracked black pepper, to season
2 tsp olive oil*
425g tin no added salt diced tomatoes*
375ml reduced salt chicken stock
Canola oil spray*
1 Spanish onion, cut in wedges
1 large red capsicum, chopped
2 large zucchinis, sliced
2 baby eggplants or 1 large (200g), sliced
1 1/2 cups water
1 tbs Tick approved margarine spread
1 1/2 cups couscous
Steamed green beans, to serve

*Products available with the Heart Foundation Tick. Remember all fresh fruit and vegetables automatically qualify for the Tick.

1. Place mince, paprika, cumin, yoghurt and 1/4 cup of chopped mint in a large bowl, season with pepper and mix with clean hands until thoroughly combined. Roll level tablespoons of mixture into balls.

2. Heat oil in a large, non-stick frypan, add meatballs and cook until lightly browned all over. Stir in tomatoes and stock and bring to the boil. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 20-25 minutes until meatballs are cooked through and liquid has reduced and thickened, stirring occasionally.

3. Grease heated grill plate or BBQ with cooking spray and cook onion, capsicum and zucchini until lightly browned.

4. Bring water and margarine to the boil in a saucepan. Add couscous, cover and stand for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork and stir in char-grilled vegetables and the remaining chopped mint.

5. Serve meatballs with vegetable couscous and accompany with steamed green beans.

Tip Meatballs can be prepared several hours ahead. Place on a tray and keep covered in refrigerator. Cook as required.

Recipe and image reproduced with permission. © 2013 National Heart Foundation of Australia. For other healthier recipe ideas, visit or phone 1300 36 27 87.


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