FDA to examine ‘healthy’ definition
Current standards allow sugary cereal and pudding producers to use the term, while those processing avocados, salmon and nuts cannot.
As health professionals’ and consumers’ expectations of nutritional content evolves, and new research points in different directions, FDA says it “believes now is an opportune time to reevaluate regulations concerning nutrient content claims, generally, including the term ‘healthy.’” The regulatory agency says it will solicit public comment on these issues in the near future.
FDA currently permits the use of the term “healthy” on food and beverage packaging if the products meet certain nutrition standards and contain less than the established limits of fat, saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium among other nutrients.
Snack bar manufacturer KIND LLC made headlines last year after FDA issued it a warning letter stating its fruit and nut bars contained too much saturated fat to meet the necessary standards needed to warrant the “healthy” claim. KIND took corrective actions that included removing and amending some of its nutrient content claims on product labels and labeling. FDA later concluded the company satisfactorily addressed the violations outlined in the warning letter. This month, FDA confirmed KIND could continue to use the “healthy and tasty” claim on its packaging since it is presented as a corporate philosophy and not a representation of a nutrient content claim.
After receiving the warning letter, KIND evaluated FDA’s current two-decade old regulation standards and ultimately petitioned the regulatory agency to update the requirements. KIND argued its snack bars failed to meet saturated fat requirements because the products included a primary ingredient of nuts, which are now commonly thought of as nutritionally beneficial in correct portions. The company also noted FDA’s regulations preclude other foods considered good for you (such as avocados and salmon) from using the term “healthy,” while they allow products like pudding, sugary cereals and low-fat toaster pastries to use it.
“While we’ve made strides toward positive change on the policy and consumer education fronts, our work remains far from done,” says Daniel Lubetzky, founder and CEO of KIND. “True success will come when the healthy standard is updated, empowering consumers to better identify the types of food recommended as part of a healthy diet.”