The FDA May Reassess What It Calls 'Healthy'

The FDA to reassess what it calls 'healthy'

Frosted Flakes are healthy, but salmon, almonds and avocados aren't? You read correctly—at least, according to the FDA. The agency hasn't updated its guidelines for what makes foods like these "healthy" since 1994, back when low-fat cookies that tasted like cardboard were all the rage. But that may be changing, the Wall Street Journal reports.

The agency said in a statement this week: "We believe now is an opportune time to reevaluate regulations concerning nutrient content claims, generally, including the term 'healthy.'" Part of what prompted this is a petition from KIND LLC, the popular granola bar maker. Last year, the company received a letter from the FDA demanding that it remove the word "healthy" from its packaging, because it currently doesn't fit the standing definition (though Pop-Tarts are fine). KIND challenged the agency and last month was finally told it could use the term "healthy and tasty," but not on its nutrition label.

FDA rulings often lag behind current research and notions around nutrition, David Katz, the director of the Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center, tells the Journal. "The problem, of course, is that the foodscape can change quickly, but FDA regulations change very slowly."

The FDA just closed a comment period on the use of the term "natural" earlier this week, and if it does move forward with reevaluating what "healthy" means, it will likely be a years-long process. In the meantime, maybe it's just best to channel Michael Pollan: "Eat food, not too much, mostly plants."