[The Epoch Times, Hydref 5, 2022](Collected and reported by Epoch Times reporter Linda) Currently, salmon, nuts and other foods do not meet US food “healthy” standards, but sugary cereals do. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) finally proposed on September 28 to revise the standard for the word “healthy” on food packaging. This is a long-awaited thing, because according to the definition of “healthy food” drawn up in the 1990s, today’s food (including various nuts, salmon, avocado, olive oil, etc.) cannot be called healthy, even water ) is healthy. .
While the new definition is not immune to criticism, and Americans may still be unsure about which foods are healthy and which are not when grocery shopping, the update to the definition of healthy foods is a clear step forward. And it happens to coincide with the spirit of the White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition and Healthy Food, where improving nutrition and reducing hunger has become a national strategy in the United States.
The current health standards were established in 1994, when the FDA allowed food manufacturers to label their products as “healthy” based on maximum and minimum values for a specific ingredient. This means that “healthy” foods can have higher levels of saturated fat, total fat, cholesterol and sodium, but only need to contain one or more of the following nutrients, such as vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, iron, protein and fiber, and make it contain 10% of the required daily intake.
Under this rule, foods high in sugar are also eligible for a “healthy” label, as long as other conditions are met. Such foods include low-fat yoghurt or sugar-sweetened breakfast cereals aimed at the children’s market.
The same goes for some white breads that have nutritional concerns. However, natural foods such as avocados or currently recommended meats such as salmon are substandard due to their high fat content. Even plain or plain carbonated water cannot be labeled “healthy”.
New FDA regulations
The absurdity of this definition made headlines in 2015, when the FDA issued a warning letter to Kind, saying that it could not use the word “healthy” on their Kind bars product packaging because it contained too much saturated Fat. Under current rules, single nuts and seeds generally do not qualify as “healthy.” In 2016, the FDA changed course, saying it intended to update the definition—which led to the recently published recommendation.
Under the new rules proposed by the FDA (which could be further revised), the agency is taking a more holistic approach to evaluating foods, saying that foods can be labeled healthy if they:
• Contains a significant amount of food from at least one food group (eg, fruit, vegetables, milk, etc.) recommended by the Dietary Guidelines.
• Adhere to maximum limits for certain nutrients, such as saturated fat, sodium, and added sugars.
Importantly, for this last point, nutrient limits will vary depending on the type of food the product contains – for example olive oil based products have higher saturated fat limits than products that plant-based, which have lower added sugar limits than cereals. The FDA provides a helpful table listing restriction recommendations for different food groups.
The FDA also provided an example of a cereal that meets the new “healthy” definition: it contains ¾ ounce of whole grains, contains no more than one gram of saturated fat, no more than 230 milligrams of sodium, and a maximum of 2.5 grams of added sugar.
The FDA hopes the change will help consumers make better food choices and encourage food manufacturers to adjust their products to fit the new definition.
In a statement, FDA Commissioner Robert Califf said the review was “an important step towards achieving food health, including educating consumers about healthier eating so they can develop good eating habits as quickly as possible … and lead to healthier and nutritious food supply.”
American eating habits urgently need to change
This nutrition-related goal is more important than ever. On September 2, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported data showing that the number of states with high rates of adult obesity (defined as more than 35 percent of adults being obese) had more than doubled since 2018, and there now nineteen states and two territories have high obesity rates. Childhood obesity rates have also increased during the Covid pandemic. According to a study published last year in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), the percentage of overweight children between the ages of 5 and 11 rose from 36.2% the year before the pandemic to 45.7% in January 2021.
Obesity at any age can expose people to serious health problems, such as high blood pressure, sleep apnea, heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, certain types of cancer, serious consequences of COVID-19, poor mental health, and more. The top three causes of death in 2020 are heart disease, cancer and COVID-19.
Of course, obesity is a complex, multi-factorial health condition, of which diet is only one part. But there is a wealth of data that Americans are eating unhealthy—and the typical American diet contributes to chronic disease. The FDA states that 75% of Americans have a diet that is low in fruits, vegetables and dairy; 77% eat too much saturated fat; 63% eat too much added sugar; and up to 90% consume too much sodium.
The new definition of “healthy” proposed by the FDA will certainly not solve all problems at once. Some health advocates and experts say its effect may be small, and that package labels warning of unhealthy contents (with something like a red light symbol) may be more effective than labeling “healthy” foods. However, the update is a marked improvement on the definition of “healthy”, where the previous health label lacked scientific evidence.
Kind CEO Russell Stokes said in comments to The Washington Post that the company celebrates the proposed update, “that the new rules reflect contemporary nutritional science and are consistent with the United States. This is a win for public health and a win for all of us.” ◇#
Responsible editor: Ye Ziwei