When it comes down to it, the real question is, can a company known for snack bars really change how the world views the word “healthy”? Or maybe not the world. Maybe just the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)?
KIND is publicly urging the FDA to update its regulations around the term healthy when used as a nutrient content claim in food labeling.
The company, which is working with nutrition, public health and public policy experts, says the current regulations do not permit fatty foods from using the term "healthy" as a nutrient content claim because of these foods' inherent dietary fat content.
Specifically, the FDA currently mandates that the term “healthy” only can be used as a nutrient content claim to describe foods that contain 3g or less total fat and 1g or less of saturated fat per serving, with the exception of fish and meat, which are required by the regulation to have 5g or less total fat and 2g or less saturated fat per serving.
That doesn’t leave much room for things like nuts, avocados, olives and salmon — all of which most people would agree are healthy. So, KIND wants the word “healthy” to be based on nutrient content claims instead of arbitrary fat guidelines.
"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," argues Daniel Lubetzky, founder and ceo of KIND.
All of this isn’t just out-of-the-blue protest from KIND though. The company got a warning letter from the FDA back in March telling them they they couldn’t use the word healthy on some of their products.
Joe Cohen, senior v.p. of communications, told NPR at the time that “the company didn't know that the word "healthy" came with a specific set of rules and guidelines. The word went on the packaging in 2004 and it's been there ever since.”
So all these requests for changes are more of a punch back at the FDA, which started the fight with the warning letter.
That doesn’t mean the requests aren’t valid though. I mean, I think we can all agree that nuts should be allowed to be called healthy. And if KIND is successful in convincing the FDA to update its regulations that will only be a good thing for the confectionery and snack industry.
Everyone knows that better-for-you is hot — look no further than Mars goodnessknows brand, and Hershey’s Brookside bars for proof that even the largest candy makers are trying to tap into the trend. And telling consumers that the snack bar they’re grabbing that’s full of almonds and maybe even avocados is actually healthy wouldn’t just help manufacturers, it would also help shoppers.
"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," says David Katz, MD, MPH, FACPM, FACP, Director of the Yale University Prevention Research Center and Senior Nutrition Advisor to KIND. "The changes KIND is requesting would facilitate such communication and help Americans better understand how to choose nutritious foods more often."
Sounds like a healthy win-win if there ever was one.