Food marketers are well accustomed to using language that appeals to people who want to eat well. They often use the word “healthy” on packaging to give the impression the food within is good for a person to consume. However, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has decided it will redefine what constitutes healthy food, which may mean minor changes for familiar packaging.
KIND bars frequently featured the word “healthy” on their labels, but that caught the attention of the FDA and caused the manufacturer to receive a warning letter. In that case, the FDA determined KIND bars shouldn’t be officially considered healthy because their nutritional makeup fell outside of what constitutes healthy food under the FDA’s definition. Specifically, a food cannot be deemed healthy and get FDA approval unless it has less than one gram of saturated fat per a 40 gram bar.
Four KIND Bars Don’t Meet the Mark
The FDA found there were four types of KIND bars that have more saturated fat than the threshold mentioned above, and therefore can’t be marketed as “healthy” by FDA standards. However, although the FDA’s warning letter mentioned saturated fat content, many nutritional scientists argue that saturated fats aren’t necessarily as bad for us as many people once thought.
It’s also important to note that not every type of saturated fat is the same. In fact, there are over two dozen types of saturated fats. When they occur naturally in foods, these fats reduce the risk of strokes, strengthen bones, and help with weight loss.
Protein Content is Misrepresented in KIND Bars Too
The FDA also took issue with the way protein content was labeled on KIND bars. The packaging featured a “+” symbol, which means the amount of protein the bars offer at least ten percent more than the Reference Daily Intake (RDI) for protein, compared to other bars of that type. When the FDA looked more closely at the nutritional breakdown of certain types of KIND bars, they found the protein content was not always as high as indicated by the “+” symbol.
Because of examples like those above, the FDA has decided to call upon nutrition experts, the public, and policy makers to look at possibly changing their definition of what’s healthy. An FDA representative mentioned it was necessary to do that since our nutritional knowledge is expanding. Several years ago, people were mostly concerned with the amount of fat they consumed, and now we know that the type of fat is sometimes more important than the amount. The new definition for healthy food may also discuss sugar content, based on changing health insight.
Furthermore, sometimes it’s not just the nutritional makeup of food that means it’s healthy, but the way it’s prepared, and the types of ingredients people use. By looking the HamptonCreek Facebook page, you’ll see plenty of healthy ideas you can whip up in your own kitchen. Also, the Hampton Creek brand became known for concocting familiar food items in ways that made them more accessible to people who maintain certain diets. For example, it offers egg-free mayonnaise.
One of the goals of the Hampton Creek brand is to prove it’s not hard to eat healthily at home, especially when you have access to products that make it simpler. Perhaps once the FDA retools the definition for healthy food, it’ll encourage people to not be so dependent on labels alone, and realize there are many things that go into determining whether foods are healthy or not.
How Much Do Labels Matter?
Opinions are split over how much food labels really impact a person’s decision to buy something. An FDA representative argues people scan food labels and decide whether to buy something in seconds, so proper nutritional labels would help them. However, some food companies feel certain health claims are used as marketing ploys.
No matter how you feel about the issue, hopefully the information above has encouraged you to look deeper than a food’s package to determine if it’s healthy. Something that’s labeled as being “healthy” may not be as good for you as something that doesn’t have any sort of special labeling.