CENTENNIAL, Colo. – Thanks partly to a partnership with the Beef Checkoff Program, the American Heart Association has listed three beef cuts as part of its Food Certification Program. This program places the association's heart-check mark on food packages to help healthy consumers over two years of age identify foods that meet criteria for saturated fat and cholesterol.

Three beef cuts meeting the AHA’s criteria for extra lean and are now certified to display the heart-check mark include boneless top sirloin petite roast (Select grade), top sirloin filet (Select grade) and top sirloin kabob (Select grade).

"We are extremely thrilled to receive the American Heart Association certification because, for consumers, it represents the independent voice of a trusted health organization," said Margie Hande, Beef Board member, a cow/calf operator from Amidon, N.D., and chair of the checkoff's Joint Retail Committee. "Today, the Beef Checkoff Program has added another nutrition success point to its growing roster to show that a serving of extra-lean beef can be part of an overall sensible eating plan. The nutrients in lean beef, such as protein, iron and zinc, help people feel satisfied longer and get more nutrition from their calories without sacrificing taste."

More than 83% of US consumers have an aided awareness of the heart-check mark, and nearly 75% of primary grocery shoppers say the heart-check mark improves the likelihood they'll buy a product.

This certification allows retailers to display the heart-check mark on fresh case beef packages, promoting the health benefits of a serving of these particular beef cuts to their customers. This is good news since many of the food industry's top brands have certified products. The mark has been shown to influence sales by as much as 5%. In addition, the Beef Checkoff Trade Association Certification simplifies a retailer's processing and related costs to participate in the AHA’s heart-check mark program, such as waiving of certain fees and significant discounts to participate.

In addition to the three products certified by the American Heart Association, there are many popular beef cuts that meet government guidelines for lean for a single serving, including favorites such as sirloin, flank steak, tenderloin, T-bone steak and 95% lean ground beef. Totaling about 30 lean beef cuts, it's now easier to build healthy meals including beef along with vegetables, fruits and whole grains.

For retailers, the checkoff-funded integrated promotions feature merchandising elements where it matters most – the point of purchase. As part of the integrated promotions, there is a comprehensive campaign including on-pack labels, recipes and more to help drive awareness, traffic to lean beef cuts in the meat case and ultimately product sales.

"Looking forward, we're not stopping at just three cuts,” Hendricks said. “We are in the process of obtaining certification for some of our other extra lean beef choices as well."