WASHINGTON — The Department of Agriculture has barred the use of an American Heart Assn. seal of approval on any food product containing meat or poultry, the heart association said today.
"Although we share the desire to provide information to consumers that enables them to make informed food choices, we are unable to approve this labeling program," department official Lester Crawford told the group in an Oct. 19 letter made public by the heart association.
"We believe that the HeartGuide program would be counterproductive to nutrition education," wrote Crawford, who heads the USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service.
The department's decision is a serious blow to the association's effort to educate consumers on how to reduce their risk of heart disease through an improved diet.
Heart association officials said that they will abide by the department's ruling on meat and poultry but that the rest of the program will go on as scheduled.