"Healthy" snack bar company Kind on Dec. 1 filed a Citizen Petition asking the FDA to update its regulatory definition of the term “healthy” as a nutrient content claim.
The New York company noted current regulations allow the term for some fat-free puddings and sugar-sweetened cereals, because they meet limits on fat content, but precludes certain nutrient-rich foods such as nuts, avocados, olives and salmon.
The petition, with support from nutrition, public health and public policy experts, requests better alignment between food labeling regulations, the latest nutrition science and federal dietary guidelines, a Kind statement said.
"Currently, the FDA mandates that the term healthy only be used as a nutrient content claim to describe foods that contain 3g or less total fat and 1g or less of saturated fat per serving, with the exception of fish and meat, which are required by the regulation to have 5g or less total fat and 2g or less saturated fat per serving," the company said.
"Our goal is to highlight the importance of following a healthy diet that includes foods made with wholesome and nutrient-dense ingredients,” said Daniel Lubetzky, founder and CEO of Kind. “The current regulations were created with the best intentions when the available science supported dietary recommendations limiting total fat intake. However, current science tells us that the unsaturated fats in nutrient-dense foods like nuts, seeds and certain fish are beneficial to overall health."
Kind also is asking the FDA to implement a framework for regulating dietary guidance statements. Dietary guidance statements are different from nutrient content claims and would provide simple communications about the overall nutritional benefits of a food as part of a healthy diet. One example of a dietary guidance statement could be “eating nuts has been shown to be part of a healthy diet,” the company explained.
“Unfortunately, the current regulatory approach for food labeling claims limits the ability of food producers to tell consumers that products containing certain ingredients – such as nuts, whole grains, seafood, fruits, and vegetables – are healthy and are recommended as part of a beneficial diet,” said David Katz, MD, director of the Yale University Prevention Research Center and senior nutrition advisor to Kind.