Animal Outlook has filed a lawsuit against the American Heart Association (AHA) over its use of Heart-Check labels on certain meat products.
American Heart Association is a large non-profit organization based in Dallas, Texas. It’s been in operation since 1924 and is focused on cardiovascular health.
It’s been alleged that the AHA has been taking payment from meat companies in exchange for its “heart healthy” product certifications.
The lawsuit also alleges that the AHA promotes its Heart-Check certification program as more stringent than the government’s to certify beef. But actually, Animal Outlook maintains it only uses the government’s minimum standards.
Animal Outlook has stated that the AHA’s decision to label certain meats as heart-healthy goes against its previous statements on the matter.
The organization pointed out that, as recently as August 1, 2022, an official peer-reviewed journal published on behalf of AHA recognized that “higher meat intake [is] associated with atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease [ASCVD].”
The AHA has also stated that “in general, red meats (such as beef, pork, and lamb) have more saturated fat” than other protein sources, and that “saturated fats can raise your blood cholesterol and increase your risk of heart disease.”
“There are layers of problems and deceptions here,” Animal Outlook’s Cheryl Leahy told Plant Based News.
“If you’re a consumer and you go to the store and you see this, there is no way that you’d believe that a well respected and well-known charity would be anything but focused on the science and the facts of whether something actually comports with their mission as a charity.”
‘A great disservice’
Animal Outlook sent a letter to the AHA late last year asking the organization to stop certifying these products as heart-healthy in exchange for a fee, but it refused to do so.
Leahy added: “In our minds, the American Heart Association is doing a great disservice to the people whose health they have worked so diligently for nearly a century to protect, not to mention the treatment of animals in agriculture, and we are calling for the organization to end these misleading paid endorsements and reimburse consumers deceived by this deceptive marketing.”
A number of beef and pork products have been certified with the Heart-Check label, including Smithfield Boneless Pork Sirloin Roast and Black Steer Brand Angus Roast Beef Top Round.
“For nearly 100 years the American Heart Association has made it its mission to educate consumers on healthy living,” Leahy said.
“That’s why it is so incongruous that they are now selling these pay-to-play heart healthy certifications for the very meat products they have publicly taken a position against.”
Red meat’s impact on heart health
A growing body of research examines a link between red meat and cardiovascular disease. One recent report found that a serving of red meat could increase the risk of heart disease by 22 percent.
The research, published in the peer-reviewed journal Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology, observed 3,931 men and women who had no history of cardiovascular disease at the start of the study.
They were followed for an average of 12.5 years, during which time they submitted regular blood samples and answered questions about their diets.
While fish, eggs, and poultry weren’t found to be “significantly” connected, the study “conclusively” linked red meat with heart disease.