Heart Association Praised for 'Laura's Lean Beef' Crackdown
Action Taken in Response to CSPI Investigation
June 2, 2003Strip steaks sold by Laura’s Lean Beef will no longer be certified to bear the familiar “heart-check” seal of the American Heart Association (AHA), now that the group has confirmed that the steaks have more fat than AHA guidelines allow. Also, the AHA will be taking action to stop the unauthorized use of its heart-check logo on Laura’s Lean ribeye steaks. The crackdown is in response to an investigation into Laura’s Lean Beef conducted by the nonprofit Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), which tested 30 Laura’s Lean steaks earlier this year.
“The American Heart Association is taking sensible steps to protect consumers and preserve the integrity of its food certification program,” said CSPI executive director Michael F. Jacobson. “It’s important that the foods that bear the association’s seal meet the association’s criteria.
“In addition to misusing the heart association’s symbol, Laura’s Lean Beef illegally deceives consumers about the true fat and saturated fat content of its steaks. CSPI’s lab tests showed that Laura’s Lean strip steaks and ribeyes have, on average, twice the fat and saturated fat as the company claims, with some steaks having three or four times as much. Although Nutrition Facts labels are not required on fresh meat, the labels must be accurate.”
While the company’s strip steak was certified to use the AHA logo, all but one of the 14 strip steaks tested failed to meet AHA guidelines, which require a serving of meat to have less than 5 grams of total fat and less than 2 grams of saturated fat. And although the AHA had already decertified Laura’s Lean ribeyes, one third of the ribeyes CSPI purchased improperly bore the AHA heart-check seal.
CSPI also asked the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Federal Trade Commission to take enforcement action against Laura’s Lean Beef. Despite having the results of CSPI’s laboratory tests, Laura’s Lean has yet correct its nutrition facts labels or the nutrition data on its web site.
The Heart Association also told CSPI that it is enhancing its policies regarding the certification of beef products, including more frequent random lab testing.