KIND Healthy Snacks, New York, announced on May 10 that has been notified by FDA that it can continue to use the term “healthy” on its packaging, a reversal of the position FDA took more than a year ago.
“At KIND, healthy has always been more than just a word on a label, so when we were asked to remove the term from our wrappers, it cut to the core of who we are,” says Daniel Lubetzky, founder and CEO of KIND. “While we’re pleased the FDA affirmed that KIND can put healthy back on our wrappers, just as we had it before, it doesn’t change what always has been and will remain our focus—to create delicious snacks made with wholesome ingredients.”
The reversal follows a warning letter issued by the agency in March 2015, requesting the company remove the word healthy from the back panel of four KIND wrappers and its website. After receiving the letter, KIND better educated itself on the regulation in question. While the company initially responded by removing healthy from its four wrappers, it maintained that its usage wasn’t a nutrient content claim. FDA has since agreed its usage is permissible under the current rules.
In examining the regulation, which was established more than two decades ago, KIND also learned that it precludes foods generally considered to be good for you—like nuts, avocados and salmon—from being labeled as healthy. However, it allows items like fat-free chocolate pudding, some sugary cereals and low-fat toaster pastries to carry the healthy designation.
“The current regulatory definition of healthy is inconsistent with federal guidelines and scientific research, as today we know it’s advisable to prioritize eating whole foods, including nuts, plants, whole grains and seafood,” says David L. Katz, MD, MPH, FACPM, FACP, director of the Yale University Prevention Research Center, who has served as a nutrition adviser to KIND. “I applaud KIND for entering the policy conversation, their commitment to public health, and their appropriate focus on food over nutrients. I applaud the FDA, as well, for acknowledging that sometimes companies get it right, while regulations, however well intended, can fall out of date.”
In December 2015, to help facilitate the delivery of clear and consistent dietary guidance to consumers, KIND—with the support of leading nutrition and public health experts—filed a Citizen Petition. The petition urged FDA to update its requirements related to the term healthy to emphasize the importance of eating real foods and nutrient-dense ingredients as part of healthy eating patterns.
“While we’ve made strides toward positive change on the policy and consumer education fronts, our work remains far from done,” Lubetzky says. “A true success will come when the healthy standard is updated, empowering consumers to better identify the types of food recommended as part of a healthy diet.”