FDA introduces new voluntary claims
By: Sydney Sheffield
The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a proposed rule to update the definition of the implied nutrient content claim “healthy”, which was originally set in 1994. The hope is that the updated "healthy" claim for food labeling will be consistent with current nutrition science and federal dietary guidance, specifically the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The proposed rule comes after the White House’s Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health. For more information about the conference, check out the Taking Stock article summarization.
“Nutrition is key to improving our nation’s health,” said Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra. “Healthy food can lower our risk for chronic disease. But too many people may not know what constitutes healthy food. FDA’s move will help educate more Americans to improve health outcomes, tackle health disparities and save lives.”
The proposed rule would update the “healthy” claim definition to better account for how all the nutrients in various food groups contribute and may work together to create healthy dietary patterns and improve health. Under the proposed definition for the updated “healthy” claim, more foods that are part of a healthy dietary pattern and recommended by the Dietary Guidelines would be eligible to use the claim on their labeling. To be considered “healthy”, a product must:
- Contain a certain meaningful amount of food from at least one of the food groups or subgroups 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
“In reality, FDA’s proposed rule will need to undergo significant review and revision to ensure it does not place the politics of food above science and fact,” Sean McBride, founder of DSM Strategic Communications and a former executive at the Grocery Manufacturers Association, told the Washington Post. “The details are critical because the final rule goes well beyond a simple definition by creating a de facto nutrition profile regulatory scheme that will dictate how food can be made for decades to come.”
In addition, the FDA is conducting research on a symbol to represent the claim “healthy.” The claim, along with a potential symbol on the front of a package, would inform customers to identify foods that are considered healthy by these perimeters.
“Nutrition is key to improving our nation’s health,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra. “Healthy food can lower our risk for chronic disease. But too many people may not know what constitutes healthy food. FDA’s move will help educate more Americans to improve health outcomes, tackle health disparities and save lives.”
Electronic or written comments on the proposed rule must be submitted by December 28, 2022.