The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is proposing new criteria for manufactured foods to be labeled as “healthy,” and under the proposed guidance some popular breakfast cereals could no longer make that claim.
According to the FDA, more than 80% of people in the United States aren’t eating enough vegetables, fruit and dairy — and most consume too much added sugars, saturated fat and sodium.
“Nutrition is key to improving our nation’s health,” said Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra. “Healthy food can lower our risk for chronic disease. But too many people may not know what constitutes healthy food. FDA’s move will help educate more Americans to improve health outcomes, tackle health disparities and save lives.”
Under the proposed definition, a product can be labeled with a “healthy” claim on packaging if it:
- Contains a certain meaningful amount of food from at least one of the food groups or subgroups (e.g., fruit, vegetable, dairy, etc.) recommended by the Dietary Guidelines.
- Adheres to specific limits for certain nutrients, such as saturated fat, sodium and added sugars. The threshold for the limits is based on a percent of the Daily Value (DV) for the nutrient and varies depending on the food and food group. The limit for sodium is 10% of the DV per serving (230 milligrams per serving).
Here are 10 cereals that would not be considered “healthy” under the FDA’s proposed criteria:
- Raisin Bran — 9 grams of added sugars
- Special K — 10 grams of added sugars
- Honey Bunches of Oats — 9 grams of added sugars
- Kellog’s Corn Flakes — 4 grams of added sugars, 300 milligrams of sodium
- Honey Nut Cheerios — 12 grams of added sugars
- Post HoneyComb — 12 grams of added sugars
- Quaker Oats Oatmeal Squares Brown Sugar Breakfast Cereal — 9 grams of added sugars
- Rice Chex – 330 milligrams of sodium
- Quaker Life Cereal — 8 grams of added sugars
- Kashi Go Original Cereal — 7 grams of added sugars
The proposed rule came about after the release of a national strategy to end hunger, improve nutrition and physical activity, reduce diet-related diseases, and close disparity gaps by 2030.
Updating the labeling requirements could also help foster a healthier food supply if some manufacturers reformulate or develop products to meet the new definition, according to the FDA.
The agency is also in the process of studying the development of a symbol that many manufacturers could use to show that their product meets the “healthy” claim criteria. It noted that many consumers are busy and, while shopping, may be seeking a quick way to identify and select health products.
Future planned actions include:
- Developing a front-of-package (FOP) labeling system to quickly and more easily communicate nutrition information to empower consumers to make healthy decisions.
- Facilitating making nutrition information easily available when grocery shopping online.
- Facilitating lowering the sodium content of food in the food supply, including by issuing revised, lower voluntary sodium reduction targets for industry.
- Holding a public meeting regarding future steps the federal government could take to facilitate lowering added sugar consumption.
- Releasing additional education and outreach efforts to ensure that parents and caregivers are aware of the latest recommendations for healthy eating in young children and for taking steps to reduce exposure to toxic elements in food.