American Heart Association® Heart-Check Food Certification Program

Use the reputation and powerful brand awareness of the American Heart Association® to create a competitive point of difference

Now your shoppers can feel ever better about choosing beef - the American Heart Association® has certified extra-lean beef cuts that meet its requirements for heart-healthy foods as part of an overall healthy dietary pattern, and are certified to display the Heart-Check mark.* This certification allows participating retailers to display the American Heart Association's® Heart-Check mark on fresh beef packages, promoting beef's role in a healthy diet and helping nutrition-conscious shoppers make healthy choices in the meat case.

Why should our company participate?
Which cuts are currently certified with the Beef Checkoff trade association certification?
How do I get started?
What resources are available?
What are the potential benefits?
How have other retailers successfully launched the program?

Beef Up Your Bottom Line

The American Heart Association® Heart-Check mark is a proven traffic driver. In-store sales data reveals that the Heart-Check mark boosts incremental sales an average of 5 percent when certified products are highlighted with supporting POS and merchandising.**

Help Your Customers Be Heart-Smart

You play a key role in influencing shoppers and your customers rely on you for information that helps them make informed, nutritious decisions. By combining the respected reputation and powerful brand awareness of the American Heart Association® with great-tasting, nutritious extra lean beef that consumers know and love, certification helps qualifying cuts stand out as healthy options in the meat case.

Meet our Newest Members of the Heart-Check Mark Family

Eight fresh beef cuts are now certified to display the coveted Heart-Check mark, signifying they meet the American Heart Association's® criteria for heart-healthy foods as part of an overall healthy dietary pattern:
Extra Lean Ground Beef (96% lean, 4% fat)
Bottom Round Steak (USDA Select grade)
Sirloin Tip Steak (USDA Select grade)
Top Sirloin Petite Roast, Boneless (USDA Select grade)
Top Sirloin Strips (USDA Select grade)
Top Sirloin Filet (USDA Select grade)
Top Sirloin Kabob (USDA Select grade)
Top Sirloin Steak, Boneless, Center Cut (USDA Select grade)

With many of America’s favorite beef cuts already meeting government guidelines for lean, the future is bright for raising awareness of the positive role that beef, America's favorite protein, plays in a healthful, delicious diet.

Get Involved in a Heart Beat

By working with the Beef Checkoff Program, retailers can enjoy simplified participation in the American Heart Association® Food Certification Program and experience significant cost-savings. The set-up fee is waived, and participation cost per product is reduced to $1,000/year.

Follow these easy steps to participate:

  1. The program requires that whole muscle cuts be USDA Select quality grade beef to meet the nutrition criteria. Retailers must use Select grade beef to participate. 
  2. Complete the company application form and submit through NCBA. Contact Cheryl Hendricks at or 303-850-3372 with questions.
  3. NCBA will submit the application form to the American Heart Association® for processing.
  4. The American Heart Association® and NCBA will work closely with each retailer throughout the certification process, which includes:
    • The American Heart Association® adds the company application into their database. Retailers will receive a Certification Mark License Agreement that stores will need to sign and return.
    • Once the Certification Mark License Agreement is complete, retailers will receive an email containing a user ID and password to the Online Product Entry Tool. Stores will be asked to provide product details – including nutritional information and product packaging samples – and submit the required fees. Products may require lab testing if they have nutritional values that hit the program's established lab triggers; products using the NCBA product specifications and package labels have been pre-approved by the American Heart Association®.
    • The submitted product(s) will be reviewed for certification. This process can take up to 4-6 weeks; an email notification will alert you when the submitted product(s) have been approved for certification.
    • Retailers will receive a Product Schedule to sign and return; the date indicated on the schedule marks the beginning and end of the certification. The product’s certification expires 12 months from the start date on the Product Schedule. At this time, retailers will need to re-submit for certification.

Packaging and Promotion Reviews

Once certified, any use of the Heart-Check mark or mention of certification on product packaging or marketing materials must be approved by the American Heart Association®. To begin the review process for promotional materials such as web site, brochures, in-store signage, etc., complete the Promotion Review form and email a copy of the materials to The review process can take up to 10-12 business days, but many reviews take less time.

  • For review of changes to product packaging, submit a pdf to
  • Further information including graphic specifications and policies are available in the Application Packet.

Turning Insight into Action

In the toolbox to the right, you’ll find the program elements to appeal to your health-minded customers and boost beef sales such as cutting videos, on-pack labels and POS which can be purchased for use upon certification.

Program Benefits

  • Leverage one of the most trusted nutrition icons on food packaging today 
  • Reinforce the power of extra lean beef and create added awareness of extra lean beef cuts
  • Appeal to health-minded shoppers and demonstrate that you care about their food choices
  • Support from the Beef Checkoff retail marketing team throughout the American Heart Association® Food Certification application process

Retailer Spotlights

A recent in-market test with two select retailers, a middle-America grocery chain and a regional grocery chain across the Southeast, evaluated the impact of the American Heart Association® Certification program elements on consumer awareness and shopping behaviors. This study found consumers very receptive to spotlighting cuts with an American Heart Association® certifi¬cation on-pack.

A summary of the in-market test can be found here.

*Based on 4 oz raw/ 3 oz cooked (as product packaged)
**In-market pilot test conducted by the Beef Checkoff Program

Please note that the Heart-Check Food Certification does not apply to  recipes or links to other information] unless expressly stated.  For more information, see the American Heart Association® nutrition guidelines at:

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