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FDA begins process to overhaul rules for 'healthy' labeling


The Food and Drug Administration has started a public process to redefine the meaning of the word “healthy” when it comes to food labeling.

"Redefining 'healthy' is part of an overall plan to provide consumers with information and tools to enable them to easily and quickly make food choices consistent with public health recommendations and to encourage the development of healthier foods by the industry," according to a statement Tuesday on

"As our understanding about nutrition has evolved, we need to make sure the definition for the 'healthy' labeling claim stays up to date," said FDA spokesman Douglas Balentine wrote in a blog on "For instance, the most recent public health recommendations now focus on type of fat, rather than amount of fat. They focus on added sugars, which consumers will see on the new Nutrition Facts label. And they focus on nutrients that consumers aren't getting enough of, like vitamin D and potassium."

Balentine says the hope is to encourage food manufacturers to come up with better, healthier options.

"As a first step, we are asking for public input on a range of questions about what 'healthy' should mean from a nutrition perspective and how consumers understand and use 'healthy' food label claims," Balentine said. "While we are working on the “healthy” claim, we also will begin evaluating other label claims to determine how they might be modernized. We want to give consumers the best tools and information about the foods they choose, with the goal of improving public health. And, we will also engage with industry to explore other ways to encourage companies to change their products to have better nutrition profiles. The end result will be more healthy dietary choices for consumers, and that is a worthy goal."



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