They seem to be available practically everywhere, but don’t let the pervasiveness of Kind snack bars misguide you. The FDA is now investigating the brand over what it says are violations of healthy label requirements on its fruit and nut bars, and the agency is threatening to have the products pulled from hundreds of thousands of shelves across the country.
The agency has singled out four Kind bars for violations, stating the company should “take prompt action to correct the violations.” Claims such as "healthy," "plus," "no trans fats," "antioxidant-rich," and "good source of fiber,” which are present on the labels of these products, misrepresent the health of the products based on the ingredients and total saturated fat levels present.
The tricky part is these claims alone aren’t false or misleading—the Kind snack bar products do contain, for example, good sources of fiber and no trans fats. But when those claims are present on a product that's in violation of the agency’s rules on healthy labeling, it gets complicated. Think of it like promoting a can of Coca-Cola as a good source of water, or a Big Mac as a healthy source of fiber and B vitamins. Though those things may technically be true, the sugar content in the soda and the saturated fat in the burger, among other things, diminish the isolated health claims.
According to the FDA, the Kind bars in question are Kind’s Fruit & Nut Almond & Apricot, Fruit & Nut Almond & Coconut, Plus Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate + Protein and Fruit & Nut Dark Chocolate Cherry Cashew, all of which the agency says contain too much saturated fat to qualify as healthy snacks as the product label claims indicate. “The FDA standard is less than 1 gram, while the dried fruit and almond bar contains 3.5 grams,” reports BloombergBusiness.
Kind says it’s responded to the FDA’s warning, but defends its product claims. “Nuts, key ingredients in many of our snacks and one of the things that make fans love our bars, contain nutritious fats that exceed the amount allowed under the FDA’s standard,” Joe Cohen, a spokesman for the company, said in a statement. “There is an overwhelming body of scientific evidence supporting that nuts are wholesome, nutritious and healthful.”
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Kind bars are among the top-selling energy and snack bars in the U.S., sold in approximately 150,000 U.S. stores including Whole Foods and Trader Joe's, as well as convenience stores and conventional supermarkets. According to Bloomberg Businessweek, the company sold 458 million bars in 2014, tripling its sales over the previous two years. The company's founder Daniel Lubetzky recently bought back a majority of the brand's stakes owned by a private equity firm. The company is valued at more than $728 million.
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Kind bar image via savanna-smiles