Due to advances in nutrition standards, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is now considering letting nutty products carry the “healthy” claim on the label, as fats coming from nuts are now considered components of a good diet.
The current regulation states that the “healthy” label has a direct relation to the product being significantly low in fat, without taking into account healthy or saturated fats.
Changing the labels
This sudden change of regulation comes from the administration of KIND brand products, which sells protein bars mainly composed of assorted nuts; they had a recent issue with the FDA due to their labels stating that their bars were “healthy and tasty,” which has led the FDA to review how it classifies food products based on fat content.
The current guidelines were drafted in the 1990s, where other fatty foods like avocado, salmon and almonds could not sport the “healthy” label.
“Consumers want to make informed food choices and it is the FDA’s responsibility to help them by ensuring labels provide accurate and reliable nutrition information,” stated the FDA.
Over two-thirds of shoppers look for labels such as “healthy, low-fat, natural” when buying food, when “natural,” for instance, means that the product was manufactured without the presence or action of pesticides, artificial ingredients or anything developed in a laboratory for that matter.
KIND CEO Daniel Lubetzky stated that the high amount of almonds in their bars raised objections from the FDA. He argued that there is no reason not to label KIND bars and similar products as “healthy” while sugary cereals and food with empty calories “can be deemed healthy under the rug.”
He believes that the solution to the nutritional problem on the market can be solved through discipline coming from the industry, as government regulations, although binding, take quite some time to take place and to yield actual results.
The FDA finished processing opinions and requests on May 1o, about how to review the terms “natural” and “healthy.” But the Grocery Manufacturers Association, which contains PepsiCo, Nestlé and other food brand giants’ interests, has stated that there should be no regulation on who can print the “natural” claim on the label of their products based on agricultural procedures; although they claimed that the criteria that allows for a food product to be deemed “natural” should only concern the proceeding of the ingredients and how much processing have they gone through until the product has reached the shelves.