Saturday, December 05, 2015

KIND Snacks petitions FDA to change the definition of "healthy"

In early 2015, FDA wrote a warning letter to KIND Snacks, calling out the company for using the term "healthy" on nut-filled snacks that -- among other things -- had a level of total fat level exceeding the official standards for "healthy" foods.

At the time, media sources included quotes from leading national figures in nutrition policy, who pointed out that recent editions of dietary guidelines do not come down hard on total fats (instead focusing on the types of fats). For example, NPR quoted Walter Willett.
Willett says that the FDA's letter to Kind is based on outdated guidelines, at least when it comes to nuts. The government updates its Dietary Guidelines for Americans every five years, and the latest report from the advisory committee for those guidelines does indeed point to research supporting the inclusion of nuts in a healthful diet.

But the FDA seems to be lagging, in part because the agency doesn't revise its guidelines as frequently. "I think there's wide consensus that nuts are a healthy food," Willett says.
Last week KIND Snacks petitioned FDA, asking for a change in the definition of "healthy." Here is part of the firm's publicity in support of that petition, making the rhetorical point that current rules focus too much on fat content and not enough on processing or sugar content. 

What do you think?

A couple complications:
  1. This post was spurred by an email from a food policy student, who also has worked for KIND Snacks. I think I would have chosen this topic anyway, but introspection cannot quite confirm that. 
  2. Some KIND Snacks are sweetened, and, in any case they are packaged manufactured foods, not quite so simple as the nuts in the image above.
Food policy is never simple.


Anonymous said...

Maybe while purists work through arbitrary arguments for what is "healthy" they could also settle what is "natural", what is "sustainable", what is "local"...and maybe finally determine how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.

Who cares? It's all just an insidious negative marketing strategy anyway. Intentionally implies competing products not so labeled are unhealthy or unnatural or unsustainable or foreign. That's what you do when your own product cannot be differentiated by its own merits -- poison the well of public opinion against the other guy's stuff. It sucks.

Parke Wilde said...

Hi Anonymous. I have seen just the type of "insidious negative marketing strategy" you describe ... but a company's adjective "healthy" for its own product is not a compelling example of this.