The FDA was set up in 1906 to regulate and protect public health through supervision over food safety, dietary supplements, pharmaceutical drugs, vaccines, tobacco products and much more. This agency has developed specific requirements that must be met in order for companies to use specific claims or marketing terms on their products. “Whole Grain”, “Low in Sodium”, “Contains No Trans Fats” are all terms regulated by the FDA.
The FDA has written citations against KIND and ~4 of their products due to mislabeling and claim concerns. The biggest of these issues is the claim that the KIND bars are “healthy”. The term “healthy” can only be used in compliance with a product that contains 1g of saturated fat or less and no more than 15% of calories from saturated fat. Many of the KIND bars in question contain upwards of 3-5g of saturated fat. However, the saturated fat in KIND bars comes from nuts, which are a healthy source of saturated fat and have been found to act differently in the body than animal-based saturated fats. So, who wins? The FDA or KIND?
The real issue that comes into play is the education of individuals purchasing these products. The FDA has set up regulations to try and help purchasers make better decisions, but their regulations have to cover a broad range of products. And this means that foods that contain good health benefits might get dinged for these generic regulations. However, this also means that not every product you pick up that claims “healthy” is actually healthy for you as that is just one aspect of the product. We have to educate each other and ourselves to understand where the food we are consuming is coming from and how it works in our body.
If the FDA takes the “healthy” label off of KIND bars, that doesn’t mean I have to stop eating them. I understand that even if that “healthy” label is gone, the bars still contain whole ingredients, all of which I can say and know what they are. I also understand that the saturated fat content of these bars is from a healthy source (nuts) and doesn’t have the same affect on my body as other sources of saturated fat. Another example is avocados: based on FDA regulations, avocados can't claim to be “healthy” due to their saturated fat content. However, avocados are a fantastic source of healthy fats and nutrients that help our body function properly. This is why education is vital.
I do believe that the FDA is set up to assist us and protect us (even if there is still work to be done to amend some of these regulations). And I do believe that KIND does have to make some changes to labeling to explain more of the specifics of their products. However, that does not take the responsibility off of each of us to be aware of what we’re eating and understand how different products affect each of us. It’s all about the knowledge!
To learn more about the FDA claims against KIND, read the list of citations here. And read the KIND blog post regarding this here.