Acknowledging “evolving nutrition research," FDA plans to revisit its definition of “healthy" in nutrient content claims, a move that eventually could allow for more foods such as fish and nuts to be touted on labels as healthy.
Under current FDA regulations (21 CFR 101.65) that were adopted in the early 1990s, foods featuring a “healthy" nutrient content claim must meet certain criteria related to cholesterol, fat, saturated fat, sodium and other nutrients such as calcium and vitamin A.
KIND LLC, the maker of snack bars, has noted the current regulations forbid “healthy" claims for products that are now considered important to a beneficial diet, such as nuts, while allowing such foods as Pop-Tarts, non-fat chocolate pudding and sugary cereal to display a healthy claim.
The company filed a citizen petition in December 2015 to modernize the regulations after FDA warned KIND in a letter that four of its bars did not meet the requirements for certain nutrient content claims. The matter was recently resolved after the company implemented “corrective actions," including the removal and amendment of certain nutrient content claims on its labels, FDA said in a statement on its website.
Documents released by the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee emphasized the importance of certain foods such as fruits, vegetables, lean meats, and nuts, yet the committee concluded the majority of the U.S. population isn’t getting adequate key food groups, KIND’s citizen petition noted.
“In light of evolving nutrition research, forthcoming Nutrition Facts Labeling final rules, and a citizen petition, we believe now is an opportune time to reevaluate regulations concerning nutrient content claims, generally, including the term ‘healthy,’" FDA said in its statement.
The agency said it planned to request “public comment on these issues in the near future."
"We very much hope the FDA will change the definition of healthy, so that you don't end up in a silly situation where a toaster pastry or sugary cereal can be considered healthy and a piece of salmon or bunch of almonds cannot," Kind's Chief Executive Daniel Lubetzky said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal, which broke the news this week.