New Petition Demands FDA Better Regulate Front-of-Packaging Claims

No more 'fat-free' candy or 'vitamin-enhanced' sugar water.
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A new petition is asking the FDA to better regulate on-packaging claims that highlight a food’s only healthy property, as with candy labeled "fat-free." The petition, which was developed by KIND in cooperation with public health experts, recommends that claims only be allowed when products contain "meaningful" amounts of healthy compounds.

The petition also suggests that companies be forced to disclose sugar and added trans fats on the front of product packaging.

“Dressing up empty calorie products by emphasizing a singular nutrient, like protein or fiber, versus the overall quality of the food is unfair to consumers,” KIND Founder and CEO Daniel Lubetzky says in a press release. “By bringing greater rigor to the use of nutrient claims, FDA can increase label transparency and help people better identify foods that contribute to a healthy diet, which KIND has long advocated for.”

“We realized that the entire nutrient content claim regime was broken,” Lubetzky continues. “And as a consequence, there’s just a lot of rampant abuse where consumers are not being well informed.”

One KIND survey found that about 68 percent of consumers consider nutrition claims when making purchasing decisions, but according to a 2018 study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, fewer than one-third of Americans frequently read nutrition labels.

KIND has previously faced off with the FDA, this time regarding the company's on-package use of the word “healthy.” The FDA told the company it had to remove the word from the packaging of some of its products in 2015, as these products exceeded the Agency's "healthy" thresholds for fat and saturated fat. The FDA later reversed its stance, as the company was using the word to refer to its culture and philosophy rather than as a nutrition claim, reports Fortune. KIND also argued at the time, however, that these thresholds were outdated and precluded foods high in healthy fats, like nuts and avocado, from being labeled "healthy."

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