The FDA wants your input!
Add your comment here: Use of the Term “Healthy” in the Labeling of Human Food Products
Do you remember a couple years ago when the maker of a particular brand of granola bars was told by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to cease and desist from using the term “healthy” to describe their product?
The problem with those particular granola bars was their high saturated fat content. They were made with nuts, peanuts, peanut butter. coconut and dark chocolate—foods generally considered to be healthy and “good fats,” but fats nonetheless.
This caused a lot of confusion among consumers and a big media backlash, with the FDA accused of being arbitrary and enforcing out-of-date nutrient standards.
Earlier this year the FDA unveiled its new Nutrition Facts labeling, which now emphasizes the type of fats, rather than the total calories from fats. And added sugar has replaced fat as the new food bad guy.
To further guide what claims marketers can make, the FDA is reaching out to the public to help them define “healthy.”
I’ve included a link to the FDA Regulations comments page at the top of this post.
If you have an opinion about how the word “healthy” is used to sell products, you have until January 26, 2017, to tell the FDA.
What “healthy” means to me
My opinion? I think the word “healthy” will always remain too subjective and broad. Lots of foods are healthy, but for different reasons.
I generally don’t pay attention to packaging that tells me a product is “healthy,” “low-fat,” “heart healthy,” or “low-calorie” anyway. I read the nutrition label or the ingredients list, and then I make my own judgement.
Low-fat foods can still be high in sugar and/or salt. Healthy foods can still be high calorie.
I also keep in mind that no matter how “healthy” a food might be, I can’t eat unlimited quantities of it. A good diet is about variety and moderation.
My favorite food advice comes from Michael Pollan, author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma:
Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.