Petition asks F.D.A. to revisit 'healthy' labeling term

by Jeff Gelski
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Kind Fruit & Nut Almond & Apricot bars, Kind Fruit & Nut Almond & Coconut bars, Kind Plus Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate + Protein bars and Kind Fruit & Nut Dark Chocolate Cherry Cashew + Antioxidants bars
The F.D.A. pointed out that four of Kind's bars all exceeded 3 grams of total fat per 40 grams.

NEW YORK — Kind, L.L.C. has filed a Citizen Petition asking the Food and Drug Administration to update its regulations around the term “healthy” when it is used as a nutrient content claim in food labeling. Current regulations preclude nutrient-rich foods such as nuts, avocados, olives and salmon from using the term “healthy” as a nutrient content claim because of their fat content, according to the petition.

The F.D.A. in the May 10, 1994, issue of the Federal Register published a final rule on using “healthy” as a nutrient content claim in labeling. In regard to fat, the F.D.A. mandated that the term “healthy” only may be used as a nutrient content claim to describe foods, with the exception of fish and meat, that contain 3 grams or less of total fat per serving and 1 gram or less of saturated fat per serving. Fish and meat were required to have 5 grams or less of total fat per serving and 2 grams or less of saturated fat per serving.

Daniel Lubetzky, Kind
Daniel Lubetzy, founder and c.e.o. of Kind

“Kind, with the support from top global nutrition and public health experts, is respectfully urging the F.D.A. to update its current regulations surrounding the use of the word healthy as a nutrient content claim,” said Daniel Lubetzy, founder and chief executive officer 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.”

New York-based Kind makes bars and “snackable” clusters that contain nuts, fruit and whole grains.

The F.D.A. on March 17 issued a warning letter to Kind about product claims such as “Healthy and tasty, convenient and wholesome” for four products. The F.D.A. pointed out the Kind Fruit & Nut Almond & Apricot product (10 grams of total fat per 40 grams), the Kind Fruit & Nut Almond & Coconut product (12 grams), the Kind Plus Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate + Protein product (13 grams) and the Kind Fruit & Nut Dark Chocolate Cherry Cashew + Antioxidants (9 grams) all exceeded 3 grams of total fat per 40 grams.

Kind’s petition also asks the F.D.A. to implement a framework for regulating dietary guidance statements, which communicate the nutritional benefits of a food as part of a healthy diet.

“Educating consumers about key components of a healthful diet is essential for public health, and I am proud to support Kind as they launch this effort,” said David Katz, M.D., senior nutrition adviser to Kind and director of the Yale University Prevention Research Center. “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. The changes Kind is requesting would facilitate such communication and help Americans better understand how to choose nutritious foods more often.”

Dr. Katz was one of several individuals who signed or wrote letters of support for the food policy changes requested in the citizen petition. Others included Sara Baer-Sinnott, president of Oldways; David Jenkins, M.D., Ph.D., a professor in the Department of Nutritional Sciences at the University of Toronto; and Walter Willett, Ph.D., a professor in the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health.
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