American natural foods company Kind Healthy Snacks requested the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to change the federal criteria for healthy food. Kind was called out by the FDA months ago for violating package labelling rules, placing the word "healthy" on products that don't actually fill the requirements for the nutritional claim.

In a Citizen Petition Kind filed on Dec. 1, the snack maker argued that fats from vegetables, nuts, whole grains and fruits should not be taken into the fat count tally.

"Kind respectfully submits this citizen petition requesting the Commissioner of Food and Drugs to update the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA's) existing requirements related to food labeling to become consistent with current federal dietary guidance," the company wrote in the Citizen Petition.

The findings of dietary studies published two decades ago revealed that processed sugars pose bigger threats to overall health compared to fat. Kind's claim is just one of the many cases in the long-standing dispute over what should be considered and subsequently labeled as "healthy."

The fat content of so-called "healthy" foods must be below three grams, as per FDA's current rules. Moreover, the per-serving amount of saturated fat should be less than one gram. Kind's nut-based bars surpassed the FDA-set limits on fat, which merited them a warning letter.

"Once we learned that we had not done a couple of regulatory things correctly and we fixed them, we delved deeper into understanding the rationale of those regulations," said Kind's chief executive and founder Daniel Lubetzky. He added that there is one facet in the FDA's guidelines that the company feels is not in the public policy's interest.

In 1993, recommendations on daily dietary intake focused on reducing fat, not sugar. Food items such as low-fat pudding and high-sugar cereal met the criteria while natural foods such as salmon and avocados were considered too fatty.

Health experts expressed that the food agency should revise their guidelines on healthy foods based on the changing views on fat and sugar, backed by various researches in the past two decades.

Tufts University's Dean of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science & Policy Dariush Mozaffarian added that Kind's case reveal the "outdated nature of a lot of our federal policy."

Photo: Mike Mozart | Flickr

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