“Healthy.” When It’s On A Food Label, What DOES It Mean?

what_is_healthy.jpgGood for you? Help you lose weight? Made with organic ingredients? Packed with vitamins x, y and z? Cooked by wise grandmothers who tell you to clean your plate?

The vagueness surrounding the much-used marketing term “healthy” is up for review by the FDA, and they’re asking the general public to weigh in on how WE would define the term.

According to the U.S. Food & Drug website: 

Redefining “healthy” is part of an overall plan to provide consumers with information and tools to enable them to easily and quickly make food choices consistent with public health recommendations and to encourage the development of healthier foods by the industry.

While FDA is considering how to redefine the term “healthy” as a nutrient content claim, food manufacturers can continue to use the term “healthy” on foods that meet the current regulatory definition.

FDA is issuing a guidance document (Guidance for Industry: Use of the Term “Healthy” in the Labeling of Human Food Products) stating that FDA does not intend to enforce the regulatory requirements for products that use the term if certain criteria described in the guidance document are met.”

In the eyes of the FDA, as of September 2016,

 ...this guidance is intended to advise food manufacturers of our intent to exercise enforcement discretion relative to foods that use the implied nutrient content claim “healthy” on their labels.”


So what’s your definition? Even though this request is aimed primarily a food manufacturers, anyone can have a say. For example, we applaud the FDA’s response to often-shifting knowledge of issues such as “low fat” vs. “good fats” and similar nutritional findings that have turned what we think is, and is not, healthy food upside down.

If you’d like to submit a formal comment, go to “Use of the Term “healthy” in the Labeling of Human Food Products; Request for Information and Comments.”


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