Chasing After Healthy Food Claims
Back in April, the FDA smacked Kind Bars for making healthy food claims for some of their snack bars that didn’t meet FDA guidelines. Now Kind LLC is smacking back by questioning the guidelines in a citizen’s petition. And they’ve recruited some interesting help in making their case. Kind has recruited Walter Willett, David Katz, and a host of other nutrition experts to support their petition. Katz, who works for Kind as their senior nutrition advisor, wrote a bubbly endorsement of Kind in U.S. News & World Report, saying:
KIND bars have long been a staple in the Katz family pantry, and they have powered me through the ardors of many of my frequent flyer miles. I am quite confident my personal nutrition standards rival any at the FDA.
No doubt, the guidelines are flawed. They specify that foods can only be labeled as “healthy” if they have 3 grams or less total fat and 1 gram or less of saturated fat per serving. Fish and meat must have 5 grams or less of total fat and 3 grams or less of saturated fat per serving to use the claim. This comes from a time when the dietary groupthink was that low-fat everything was the answer to all nutrition woes. So back then, low-fat cookies were being marketed as healthy snacks.
But one expert, Marion Nestle, has not signed onto Kind’s bandwagon and is taking exception to their ultimate goal of claiming that their sweet snack bars are healthy. She says:
Health claims are about marketing; they are not about health.
Foods are foods, not drugs. I don’t see why companies should be allowed to carry any health claims.
The kind thing for Kind to do would be to stop angling for health claims to promote its products. I like Kind, I think the product is really pretty good — real foods stuck together with a little sugar — but leaning on health claims diminishes the image the company is trying to project with its product.
Subscribe by email to follow the accumulating evidence and observations that shape our view of health, obesity, and policy.
December 13, 2015