Are Concerns About “Healthy” Food Labels Missing the Point?

by | Oct 17, 2022 | Nutrition

Image: Shutterstock

Under the rules the FDA has proposed, food packaging could only include the label “healthy” if certain conditions were met.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has proposed changes in regard to what kinds of foods are allowed to use the word “healthy” on their labels. This follows its recent campaign to update the Nutrition Facts label on packaged foods.

The move is also intended to support the White House strategy on nutrition and health. One of the five “pillars” of this strategy involves making it easier for consumers to make informed, healthy choices about their food.

Under the rules the FDA has proposed, food packaging could only include the label “healthy” if certain conditions were met. These include containing a “meaningful amount” of food from at least one of the food groups recommended in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans: vegetables, fruits, grains, dairy, protein foods and oils. (The fact that there are products sold as “food” which do not meet this standard is an interesting comment on the state of the packaged food industry.)

The ingredients in food products with “healthy” labels must also be within limits for ingredients such as saturated fat, sodium and added sugars.

“Today’s action is an important step toward accomplishing a number of nutrition-related priorities, which include empowering consumers with information to choose healthier diets and establishing healthy eating habits early,” said FDA Commissioner Robert M. Califf, M.D. in announcing the new standard. “It can also result in a healthier food supply.”

One thing the FDA’s rule does not account for, however, is the difference that processing can make to the nutrient content of food. As covered in earlier eSavvyHealth news briefs, processes such as the milling of grains, heating, canning, cooking, chopping, pasteurizing and other steps that are commonly taken to create packaged food products can significantly reduce the nutritional value of any food, even if its ingredients come from recommended food groups.

You can learn more about this subject in eSavvyHealth’s “Real Food” series, as well as our Guidebooks and other articles. Get started here.

Fundamentals of Health Alliance

Fundamentals of Health Alliance

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The Fundamentals of Health Alliance works to publish useful and reliable information about nutrition and health. Their mission is to empower readers to be informed with honest, non-biased information about food, nutrition and the vital components of health.

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