WASHINGTON (DC News Now) — It says “healthy,” so it must be good for you, right?
Putting the word on items can have a huge positive impact when it comes time for someone to buy an item.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recognizes that as well as the need to make sure people are getting proper nutrition.
The FDA proposed updated criteria for when foods can be labeled “healthy” on packaging. The proposal would align the definition of the “healthy” claim with current nutrition science, the updated Nutrition Facts label, and the current Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
The FDA said in order for products to be labeled “healthy,” they would need to:
- Contain a certain meaningful amount of food from at least one of the food groups or subgroups (e.g., fruit, vegetable, dairy, etc.) recommended by the Dietary Guidelines.
- Adhere to specific limits for certain nutrients, such as saturated fat, sodium and added sugars. The threshold for the limits is based on a percent of the Daily Value (DV) for the nutrient and varies depending on the food and food group. The limit for sodium is 10% of the DV per serving (230 milligrams per serving).
As an example, the FDA said a cereal would need to contain ¾ ounces of whole grains and contain no more than 1 gram of saturated fat, 230 milligrams of sodium and 2.5 grams of added sugars.
The Food and Drug Administration said in addition to empowering people in the decision-making process, adopting the updated definition may help foster a healthier food supply if some manufacturers reformulate products (e.g., add more vegetables or whole grains to meet criteria) or develop new ones that meet the updated definition.
The FDA said it also is in the process of studying and exploring the development of a symbol that companies could use to show that their product meets the “healthy” claim criteria. Together, the updated “healthy” claim and potential symbol would be quick and easier ways for people to identify healthier food choices.
This is a list of some of the items the FDA said it was working towards:
- Developing a front-of-package (FOP) labeling system to quickly and more easily communicate nutrition information to empower consumers to make healthy decisions.
- Facilitating making nutrition information easily available when grocery shopping online.
Facilitating lowering the sodium content of food in the food supply, including by issuing revised, lower voluntary sodium reduction targets for industry.
- Holding a public meeting regarding future steps the federal government could take to facilitate lowering added sugar consumption.
- Releasing additional education and outreach efforts to ensure that parents and caregivers are aware of the latest recommendations for healthy eating in young children and for taking steps to reduce exposure to toxic elements in food.