The FDA's Proposed Food Guidelines Would Majorly Impact 'Healthy' Cereal

As great as Cocoa Puffs, Lucky Charms, and Cinnabon cereal may taste, it's common knowledge that while sugary cereal was perfect to enjoy with our cartoons growing up, it isn't the healthiest breakfast choice. However, that doesn't mean we abandoned our cereal-eating habit as we got older. Instead, many people simply swapped out their childhood favorite for a healthier option. For example, you may now eat Special K, which boasts on its website that its cereal is made of real nuts and fruits. Or maybe you prefer Raisin Bran, a cereal that prides itself on its fiber content and simple ingredients. But as it turns out, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration may decide that these health-focused cereals aren't actually that much better for us than the sugar-packed, kid-approved ones.

According to its official website, the FDA announced on September 28 that it had proposed new guidelines for what makes food products eligible for the "healthy" label. And if the new criteria pass, some "healthy" cereals will no longer be able to claim that they're a better choice than Cookie Crisp.

The FDA's proposed guidelines may strip some cereals' 'healthy' status

The FDA reports that its new proposed guidelines were made in an effort to reduce the amount of added sugars, sodium, and saturated fat eaten by people in the United States. There are two new criteria that foods would have to meet to be eligible for the "healthy" label. All products would need to "contain a certain meaningful amount of food from at least one of the food groups" and have to be below a limit for "certain nutrients, such as saturated fat, sodium, and added sugars." And if passed, these new rules would leave many "healthy" cereals in a tough spot.

The FDA noted that cereal, in particular, would need ¾ ounces of whole grains, 1 gram of saturated fat or less, and up to 230 milligrams of sodium and 2.5 grams of added sugar to be considered healthy. Based on that criteria, CNBC reports that current health cereals Raisin Bran, Corn Flakes, Honey Nut Cheerios, Life, Frosted Mini Wheats, and Special K would have their health titles pulled on account of their sugar or sodium content. 

While the change would undoubtedly send many allegedly health-conscious cereals to the sugary side of the cereal aisle, it may also move brands to reconsider these cereals' formulas. But companies and consumers will just have to wait and see if the FDA's new guidelines, which also include proposing eggs as officially healthy, will be approved and implemented throughout the nation.