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September 28, 2016 — The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that it 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.

In the interim, the FDA has issued a notice with guidance for the food industry and manufacturers who currently wish to use the claim “healthy” to label their food products.

The two guidelines are: 
  1. Foods meet the “low fat” requirement (3 grams of fat or less per serving); or total fat per serving is primarily comprised of mono- and polyunsaturated fats with the amounts (grams) of mono- and polyunsaturated fat declared on the Nutrition Facts Panel.
  2. Foods contain at least 10 percent of the Daily Value (DV) per reference amount customarily consumed (RACC) of potassium or vitamin D with the percent of the Daily Value of potassium or vitamin D declared on the Nutrition Facts Panel.

According to the FDA, this guidance does not establish legally enforceable responsibilities. Instead, guidances should be viewed only as recommendations, unless specific regulatory or statutory requirements are cited.

Layne Lieberman, MS, RD, CDN, is an award-winning registered dietitian, educator and entrepreneur. She is author of the book Beyond the Mediterranean Diet: European Secrets of the Super-Healthy. Read her blog and follow her on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest, Instagram and The Huffington Post.