Food and Drug Administration issues new guidelines for 'healthy' food

The requirements vary based on the product type, with a baseline nutrient density for each.

Under the new rules, something that is labeled as “healthy” must have the equivalent of a serving of fruits, vegetables, grains, dairy or protein - Pexels / Ella Olsson
Pexels / Ella Olsson
Under the new rules, something that is labeled as “healthy” must have the equivalent of a serving of fruits, vegetables, grains, dairy or protein
After six years of volleying proposed definitions for the word “healthy” as it’s used on food labels, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has issued new guidelines for the term.

Under the new rules, something that is labeled as “healthy” must have the equivalent of a serving of fruits, vegetables, grains, dairy or protein as indicated in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, trade news site FoodDive.com reports.

According to the new parameters, each product that includes the term on its label must not only meet nutrient requirements but must also fall within percentage limits for the recommended daily intakes of less-than-healthful ingredients such as added sugars, sodium and saturated fats. The requirements vary based on the product type, with a baseline nutrient density for each.

Raw, whole fruits and vegetables automatically bear the claim.

“Healthy” was first given a regulated definition in 1994, FoodDive.com reports. At the time, the number focused heavily on fat content.

In 2015, the FDA asked Kind to remove the “healthy” claim from the labels of its nut and fruit bars because of the fat content in each product. The company then petitioned for an update to the federal regulations, because the old definition of “healthy,” would prevent nuts, salmon and avocado from bearing that label.

A year later, the FDA reversed its stance on the “healthy” claim on Kind bars and announced it would work toward redefining the term for food labeling purposes.

Companies will be given three years to analyze their products, update records of product labels and print new labels in order to be considered in compliance.

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About The Author

Nina Rangel

Nina uses nearly 20 years of experience in the foodservice industry to tell the stories of movers and shakers in the food scene in San Antonio. She enjoys writing about industry-specific challenges, victories and everything in between.

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