New FDA Rules to Define Which Food Can Have ‘Healthy’ Label

As part of the efforts to promote healthier eating in the US, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) proposed on Wednesday new rules that food products must follow so they can have the world “healthy” on their packaging.

The FDA, which regulates what foods can have the “healthy” claim on food packaging, last defined the term “healthy” in 1993 based on then-current recommendations focused on issues like the amount of certain vitamins people should consume or the fat intake.

The definition of “healthy”, according to the agency, would now change helped by the new rules to reflect current nutrition science and would include more foods like nuts, seeds, and certain oils that would be permitted to be labeled as “healthy.”

If adopted, the new FDA rules would imply that products labeled ‘healthy’ would have to meet certain limitations on nutrients like saturated fat, sodium, and added sugars and would have to contain meaningful amounts of at least one food group/ subgroup recommended by the federal government’s Dietary Guidelines.

These changes also include the inclusion of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, also called “good fats,” which have been shown to lower the risk for certain diseases.

In its guidance issued in 2016, FDA noted the evolution of the scientific understanding of nutrition in the more than two decades since “healthy” was defined, and that nutrient intake has shifted so deficiency of certain nutrients, such as vitamins A and C, are no longer public health concerns.

Stressing that nutrition is key to improving the nation’s health, Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra said in a statement that FDA’s move will help educate more Americans to improve health, tackle health disparities, and save lives.

Becerra, who attended the White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health yesterday, emphasized that everyone must understand that nutrition is health and food is medicine.

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