How do you define the phrase "healthy food?" It might take a couple of moments to answer the question, but we're sure you could come up with something. For example, you might define it as food that doesn't have much cholesterol, is low in sugar and is anything but "sweets," such as cookies and cake.
Your definition wouldn't necessarily be wrong. Typically health aficionados would recommend that you reduce your intake of fat and cholesterol, while also avoiding unhealthy items. However, it's proving to be much more difficult for organizations to actually come up with a universally agreed upon definition to place on nutrition labels.
Because of this, Food Safety News reported The Grocery Manufacturers Association asked and was granted permission from the Food and Drug Administration to extend the deadline for public comments on what constitutes healthy food back four months. Originally the deadline was January 26, 2017, but the association said it wouldn't be able to meet this deadline because it became too busy at the end of the year.
The FDA had begun the process of redefining the word "healthy" months ago after it found that KIND bars incorrectly used the word on its labels. In a letter to KIND, the FDA said the company violated federal laws with the way it used "healthy" to market its products.
While KIND eventually cleaned up its label, the company filed a "citizens petition" in September 2016, and claimed the FDA was basing its ruling on regulations enacted decades ago. Since then, the FDA has continued to try to flush out the phrase "healthy food." The process, however, could take months or even years.
The FDA has allowed input from consumers from both individuals and organizations, according to a release. The goal was to help consumers find healthy foods with ease based on recommendations from the public. The new research could also encourage food manufacturers to create healthier foods and provide them with more guidance on what to focus on.
The organization did note, however, that during this research period, manufacturers who use the word "healthy" on their products can continue to do so. However, once "healthy" is more clearly defined, manufactures will have to comply with the new ordinances.
As a food manufacturer who uses the word "healthy" on labels, this article should be especially pertinent to you. It's important that you keep a watchful eye on events happening within the food industry to make sure you're complying with government regulations.
If your labels don't have the word "healthy" on them, we suggest examining whether or not you're using it properly. There's still time to make sure you're labels fit current FDA protocols.