KIND Snacks, with support from nutrition and public health experts, has filed a Citizen Petition urging the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) to update its regulations around using the term “healthy” in food labeling.
Currently, the FDA mandates that the term “healthy” only be used as a nutrient content claim reserved for foods with 3 grams or less total fat and 1 gram or less of saturated fat per serving. Fish and meat must have 5g or less total fat and 3g or less saturated fat per serving in order to use healthy as a nutrition content claim. This guideline was established over 20 years ago and KIND Founder and CEO Daniel Lubetzky claims that it’s outdated, excluding whole, nutrient-rich foods we know to have numerous health benefits like almonds, salmon, olive oil and avocados because of their naturally occurring higher fat content.
The policy effort, which cites evidence from multiple nutrition studies in addition to current federal Dietary Guidelines, is supported by a number of leading health and wellness experts including Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts and Connie Diekman, Registered Dietitian and former President of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
Governor Peter Shumlin made history when he signed a bill into law making Vermont the first state to require the labeling of genetically modified foods. The new law will take effect July 1, 2016, so in just two years, residents of the state of Vermont can expect to GMO labels on foods.
While many were cheering the signing of the bill, Shumlin announced an online fundraiser set up to help battle the expected legal challenges to the new law. Opponents to the law have already threatened lawsuit, and the Grocery Manufacturers’ Association has state government has no compelling interest in warning consumers about GMO foods.
Clients love to tell me about the new snack bar or cereal they found at the grocery store. They tell me how it’s all natural or full of whole grains. I hate bursting their bubble when I ask how much sugar it has.
In your quest to be a healthy and fit you need to be a vigilant food detective. You can’t trust the health claims on the front of the box. You have to read the back of the box, the ingredient list in particular, to really understand what is (or isn’t) in the oatmeal or protein bar you’re about to buy. Unfortunately, it’s not easy deciphering food labels. Without sounding too much like a conspiracy theorist, I think they do it on purpose.
The marketing team believes if they highlight the words “natural”, “light”, or “reduced” on the label we, the consumer, won’t look any further than that. We will simply trust that the product is good for us, load up our carts and go on our merry way.
The problem is a lot of people do just that. This is where they often get into trouble. You have to read the label to get the real story of what’s going on. Even on products you buy regularly you need to check in every so often to make sure they haven’t changed anything without telling you. Do a quick scan of the products going in your cart and look for these 5 things:
Food labeling is kind of a messy issue right now. On one side you have advocates of “Right to Know” fighting for GMO-containing products to be labeled as such. On the other side you have soda companies and fast food restaurants digging in their heels to fight laws that would require further nutrition information posted on vending machines and menu boards.
From this perspective, it seems there’s plenty of push and pull in this important debate. The worst part, however, is that the consumer is caught in the middle with the simple desire to know what’s in the food they buy and to feel good about what they put in their bodies.
While the discussion of food labeling may have multiple sides and a variety of opinions, an editorial piece by Mark Bittman published in The New York Times Saturday shined some much-needed light on the topic and offered a simple solution: Make labels honest, easy to read and understand, and useful to the health-conscious consumer.