FDA to Redefine "Healthy" Claim for Food Labeling

Nuts, which are high in fat, put four products from Kind over the current FDA guidelines for "healthy" foods, which allow only 3 grams of total fat and 1 gram of saturated fat per serving.

The Food and Drug Administration is asking the public to weigh in on a topic that virtually no one can agree on: What does "healthy" mean when it comes to food?

"As our understanding about nutrition has evolved, we need to make sure the definition for the "healthy" labeling claim stays up to date", Douglas Balentine, Director of the Office of Nutrition and Food Labeling at the FDA, said in a statement Tuesday. Go here to find out how to register your comments online.

"FDA's current regulatory approach for food labeling claims limits the ability of food producers to tell consumers that products containing certain foods-such as nuts, whole grains, seafood, fruits, and vegetables- are "healthy" even though they are now recommended as key components of a healthful diet." . Sugar wasn't on the FDA's, or most nutritionists, ' radar. Under the current rules, the bars contained too much saturated fat to be considered healthy.

Kind Snacks, which makes fruit-and-nut bars, began campaigning to update the definition of "healthy" after it received a warning letter from the regulator past year ordering it to stop using the term on its packaging because its bars contained too much saturated fat. "Because the rulemaking process can sometimes be lengthy, we intend to exercise enforcement discretion in the interim with respect to some of the existing criteria for the nutrient content claim "healthy" if the alternative nutrient criteria described below are met". Following the letter, the company began a campaign to pressure the FDA into formally updating their labeling process.

"We're encouraged by the speed of progress within the FDA and see this as a notable milestone in our country's journey to redefine healthy", Kind CEO Daniel Lubetzky told Buzzfeed News in response to the FDA's announcement Tuesday.

The temporary guidance is created to bring the term "healthy" in alignment with the new Nutrition Facts Panel regulations. The Associated Press noted in May that it took the FDA more than six years to finalize its ruling on gluten-free labeling. Healthy diets are now more focused on the type of fat rather than the total amount of fat.

"While we are working on the "healthy" claim, we also will begin evaluating other label claims to determine how they might be modernized".

We know that many consumers use the Nutrition Facts label, especially when they are buying a food for the first time. For the time being, though, foods will be able to keep any labels they already have.

In the blog post on fda.gov, Balentine wrote: "We want to give consumers the best tools and information about the foods they choose, with the goal of improving public health". Information on how to contact the FDA can be seen here.

  • Salvatore Jensen