FDA Proposes Updated Definition Of “Healthy” Claim For Food – Food and Drugs Law

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The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”)
responds to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020-2025
directive to “make every bite count” by proposing
significant revisions to the implied nutrient content

On September 28, 2022, the FDA proposed updated criteria for when foods can
bear what FDA refers to as the implied nutrient content claim
“healthy” on their labeling.

According to the FDA, a “healthy” label signals to
consumers that the food can be helpful in maintaining healthy
dietary practices because of its nutrient content. The FDA first
defined and regulated the use of “healthy” claims in
1994. Since that time, nutrition science and federal dietary
guidance have evolved, and the foods Americans commonly consume
have changed, while the definition of “healthy” has not.
For example, some foods, including nuts and seeds, higher fat fish
(such as salmon), certain oils, and water, cannot be labeled
“healthy” under the existing regulations despite being
part of accepted healthy dietary patterns. Conversely, some foods
currently appropriately labeled as “healthy” may not be
consistent with modern dietary guidelines.

Consequently, the proposed rule seeks to update the definition
of “healthy” to conform with current nutrition science
and the Dietary Guidelines for Americans,
, which are developed jointly by federal agencies
to provide recommendations on healthy eating.

The proposed framework uses a food group-based approach and
limits the amount of certain nutrients contained in foods labeled
“healthy,” based on the understanding that each food
group contributes an array of important nutrients to the diet.
Specifically, under the proposed definition, food products would
need to meet the following key elements in order to bear the
“healthy” claim:

  • Contain a certain meaningful amount of food from at least one
    of the food groups or subgroups (e.g., fruit, vegetable, dairy,
    etc.) recommended by the Dietary Guidelines.

  • Adhere to specific limits for certain nutrients, such as
    saturated fat, sodium, and added sugars.

The proposed regulation would also add certain recordkeeping

While the FDA stated it received widespread support for updating
“healthy” in accordance with current nutrition science,
stakeholders should scrutinize the proposed criteria alongside
current and contemplated foods to assess likely impact.

Comments on the proposed rule must be submitted
by December 28, 2022.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.

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