FDA to define ‘healthy’ for food labeling

September 28, 2016

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has started a public process to redefine the “healthy” nutrient content claim for 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.

While the FDA is considering how to redefine the term “healthy” as a nutrient content claim, food manufacturers can continue to use the term “healthy” on foods that meet the current regulatory definition. The FDA has also issued aguidance document stating that the agency does not intend to enforce the regulatory requirements for products that use the term if certain criteria described in the guidance document are met.

“As our understanding about nutrition has evolved, we need to make sure the definition for the ‘healthy’ labeling claim stays up to date,” said Douglas Balentine, director, Office of Nutrition and Food Labeling at FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. “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. By updating the definition, we hope more companies will use the ‘healthy’ claim as the basis for new product innovation and reformulation, providing consumers with a greater variety of ‘healthy’ choices in the marketplace.”

The FDA is publishing a “request for information” to solicit public input as it redefines the term “healthy.” In addition, the agency is planning other public forums to receive additional public input.

Press release

FDA blog post