FDA proposes updates to ‘healthy’ claim on food packages

Sep 28, 2022, 3:19 PM | Updated: Oct 6, 2022, 3:12 pm
Woman chooses canned olives in the grocery store. (File photo)...
Woman chooses canned olives in the grocery store. (File photo)
(File photo)

(CNN) — The US Food and Drug Administration is proposing changes to the nutrition standards that foods must meet before they can carry the “healthy” label on their packages.

The proposal comes as the White House held its Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health and released a new national strategy to end hunger, and improve nutrition and physical activity.

About 5% of foods are labeled as being healthy, which is a regulated claim. Foods that make the claim have limits on individual nutrients like fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, and sodium, and they must contain minimum amounts of vitamins A and C, calcium, iron, protein, and dietary fiber.

The FDA says that since the claim was first defined in 1994, nutrition and dietary science has changed, making the term outdated.

For example, certain cereals that have high amounts of added sugars still meet the definition of “healthy,” but salmon, which is high in beneficial polyunsaturated fat, does not.

Updating the science

The proposed criteria change how the term “healthy” would be defined. Instead of counting only individual nutrients, healthy claims would also take into account the variety of nutrients present in foods, as well as the nutrient density.

In order to be labeled with the “healthy” claim, products would need to:

  • Contain a certain, meaningful amount of food from at least one of the food groups or subgroups — such as fruits, vegetables, or dairy — recommended by the Dietary Guidelines.
  • Adhere to specific limits for certain nutrients, such as saturated fat, sodium, and added sugars. The threshold is based on a percent of the daily value for the nutrient and varies depending on the food and food group. The limit for sodium, for example, is 10% of the DV.

For example, a cereal would need to contain three-quarters of an ounce of whole grains and no more than 1 gram of saturated fat, 230 milligrams of sodium, and 2.5 grams of added sugars, the FDA says.

Foods that are rich in fats, like certain oils, nuts, and seeds, would also be newly eligible for the healthy claim, the FDA says.

“Nutrition is key to improving our nation’s health,” US Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra said in a news release. “Healthy food can lower our risk for chronic disease. But too many people may not know what constitutes healthy food. FDA’s move will help educate more Americans to improve health outcomes, tackle health disparities and save lives.”

Proposal would have limited impact, critics say

Nutrition advocates say the proposed rule has some strengths but doesn’t go nearly far enough to encourage better food choices.

“The potential impact as we see it is fairly limited,” said Eva Greenthal, senior science policy associate at the nonprofit Center for Science in the Public Interest.

Greenthal says that the number of food products that currently carry the voluntary “healthy” claim is tiny and that making the standards more stringent might cause that percentage to shrink even more.

She points out that where people really struggle is with understanding when a food is not nutritious. The “healthy” claim doesn’t help with that.

Instead, what the Center for Science in the Public Interest would like to see are labels on the front of food packages like those used in Mexico and the UK that alert consumers when foods are high in excess salt, sugars, or saturated fats.

These warnings sometimes look like traffic lights or black stop signs.

“There’s a large body of experimental research that rather favors nutrient warnings in terms of having a substantial effect on consumer choices and improving the overall healthfulness of food selected when grocery shopping,” Greenthal said.

Greenthal says her group will be submitting comments on the proposed rule to voice its concerns.

The-CNN-Wire ™ & © 2022 Cable News Network, Inc., a Warner Bros. Discovery Company. All rights reserved.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories


Give A Thon...
Madison Swenson

How to donate to Primary Children’s Hospital during KSL’s Give-A-Thon

The annual KSL Give-A-Thon is Wednesday, Nov. 30 in partnership with Intermountain Primary Children's Hospital. Here's how you can donate.
3 days ago
Primary Children's Hospital announced Monday about 50 elective, prescheduled surgeries will be dela...
Cassidy Wixom, and Debbie Worthen, KSL TV

‘Unprecedented surge’ of RSV patients causes more surgery delays at children’s hospital

Primary Children's Hospital announced Monday it will be delaying 50 elective, preplanned surgeries that require the patient to stay overnight due to capacity issues from high rates of RSV and other respiratory illnesses.
4 days ago
RSV and flu...
Deidre McPhillips, CNN

Flu season intensifies, holiday gatherings could make it worse

Americans gathered for Thanksgiving last week amid a flu season that's worse than any has been in more than a decade, and experts continue to urge caution as multiple respiratory viruses circulate at high levels nationwide.
4 days ago
Chickens, existing in their coup....
JOSH FUNK AP Business Writer

Bird flu prompts slaughter of 1.8M chickens in Nebraska

Nebraska agriculture officials say another 1.8 million chickens must be killed after bird flu was found on a farm. It's the latest sign that the outbreak has kept spreading after having already prompted the slaughter of more than 50 million birds nationwide. The Nebraska Department of Agriculture said Saturday that the state's 13th case of bird flu was found on an egg-laying farm in northeast Nebraska's Dixon County. All the chickens on the Nebraska farm are being killed to limit the spread of the disease. Officials say the virus presents little risk to human health because human cases are extremely rare and infected birds aren't allowed into the nation's food supply.
5 days ago
Joan DuQuette and Amanda DuQuette-Roberts...
Ayanna Likens

South Jordan family is thankful for organ donation this Thanksgiving

A local family said they have a lot to be thankful for this year after their family member received a lifesaving kidney transplant, but this transplant actually saved more than just one life.
9 days ago
Baby Revie Moala in pajamas and a beanie....
Ashley Moser

Idaho family says Primary Children’s Hospital nurse was crucial in getting baby to breathe

For weeks the Moala's, who live in Rigby, Idaho, fought for doctors to run tests on baby Revie. Finally she was referred to Primary Children’s Hospital, where Revie was diagnosed with blindness in her right eye.
13 days ago

Sponsored Articles

house with for rent sign posted...
Chase Harrington, president and COO of Entrata

Top 5 reasons you may want to consider apartment life over owning a home

There are many benefits of renting that can be overshadowed by the allure of buying a home. Here are five reasons why renting might be right for you.
Festive kitchen in Christmas decorations. Christmas dining room....
Lighting Design

6 Holiday Decor Trends to Try in 2022

We've rounded out the top 6 holiday decor trends for 2022 so you can be ahead of the game before you start shopping. 
Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to choose what MBA program is right for you: Take this quiz before you apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.
Diverse Group of Energetic Professionals Team Meeting in Modern Office: Brainstorming IT Programmer...
Les Olson

Don’t let a ransomware attack get you down | Protect your workplace today with cyber insurance

Business owners and operators should be on guard to protect their workplace. Cyber insurance can protect you from online attacks.
Hand turning a thermostat knob to increase savings by decreasing energy consumption. Composite imag...
Lighting Design

5 Lighting Tips to Save Energy and Money in Your Home

Advances in lighting technology make it easier to use smart features to cut costs. Read for tips to save energy by using different lighting strategies in your home.
Portrait of smiling practitioner with multi-ethnic senior people...
Summit Vista

How retirement communities help with healthy aging

There are many benefits that retirement communities contribute to healthy aging. Learn more about how it can enhance your life, or the life of your loved ones.
FDA proposes updates to ‘healthy’ claim on food packages