FDA Soliciting Public Comment on 'Healthy'

By Dave Fusaro, Editor in Chief

Nov 16, 2016

The FDA at the end of September started the public comment period that may help the agency define the “healthy” nutrient content claim for food labeling purposes.

"Redefining 'healthy' is part of an overall plan to provide consumers with information and tools to enable them to easily and quickly make food choices consistent with public health recommendations and to encourage the development of healthier foods by the industry," the FDA said in announcing the start of the process.

The agency has been under mounting pressure to define the popular term, which has been used and probably mis-used by some food processors but embraced by consumers.

"While FDA is considering how to redefine the term healthy as a nutrient content claim, food manufacturers can continue to use the term healthy on foods that meet the current regulatory definition," the agency added.

Part of that "current regulatory definition" is the recently issue guidance document Guidance for Industry: Use of the Term 'Healthy' in the Labeling of Human Food Products. The agency notes it "does not intend to enforce the regulatory requirements for products that use the term if certain criteria described in the guidance document are met."

"Public health recommendations for various nutrients have evolved, as reflected by the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans and the updated Nutrition Facts label. For example, healthy dietary patterns now focus on food groups, the type of fat rather than the total amount of fat consumed and now address added sugars in the diet. Also, the nutrients of public health concern that consumers aren’t getting enough of have changed."

The comment period runs through Jan. 26, 2017. Submit electronic comments on www.regulations.gov to docket folder FDA-2016-D-2335. Submit written comments to:

Division of Dockets Management (HFA-305)
Food and Drug Administration
5630 Fishers Lane, rm. 1061
Rockville, MD 20852. 

All comments should be identified with the docket number FDA-2016-D-2335.

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