For immediate release:

Today, the United States Food and Drug Administration proposed updated criteria for determining when foods can be labeled with the “healthy” nutrient content claim on their packaging. This proposed rule would align the definition of “healthy” claim with current nutritional science, the updated Nutrition Facts label and current Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

More than 80% of people in the United States do not eat enough vegetables, fruits and dairy products. And most people consume too many added sugars, saturated fats and sodium. The proposed rule is part of the agency’s ongoing commitment to help consumers improve their nutrition and eating habits to reduce the burden of chronic disease and advance health equity.

The proposed rule follows the White House conference on hunger, nutrition and health, and the release of the related national strategy, which aims to end hunger, improve nutrition and physical activity. , reduce diet-related disease and close disparity gaps by 2030.

“Nutrition is essential to improving the health of our nation,” said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra. “A healthy diet can reduce our risk of chronic disease. But too many people may not know what constitutes a healthy diet. The FDA’s decision will help educate more Americans to improve health outcomes, address health disparities and save lives.

The proposed rule would update the definition of a “health” claim to better reflect the contribution of all nutrients from various food groups and could work synergistically to create healthy eating habits and improve health. According to the proposed definition for the updated “health” claim, which is based on current nutritional science, more foods that are part of a healthy diet and recommended by dietary guidelines would be eligible to use the claim on their labeling, including nuts and seeds, fatty fish (like salmon), certain oils and water.

“Diet-related chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes, are the leading causes of death and disability in the United States and have a disproportionate impact on racial and ethnic minority groups,” said FDA Commissioner Robert M. Califf, MD. “Today’s action is an important step towards achieving a number of nutrition-related priorities, which include empowering consumers with information to choose healthier diets and establishing healthy eating habits early on, which can also result in a healthier food supply.

According to the proposed definition, to be labeled with the health claim on food packaging, products should:

  • Contain some significant amount of foods from at least one of the food groups or subgroups (eg fruits, vegetables, dairy products, etc.) recommended by the Dietary Guidelines.
  • Stick to specific limits for certain nutrients, such as saturated fat, sodium, and added sugars. The threshold for limits is based on a percentage of the Daily Value (DV) of the nutrient and varies by food and food group. The limit for sodium is 10% of the DV per serving (230 milligrams per serving).

For example, a cereal should contain ¾ ounces of whole grains and contain no more than 1 gram of saturated fat, 230 milligrams of sodium, and 2.5 grams of added sugars.

“Healthy eating habits are associated with better health, but most people’s eating habits do not meet current dietary recommendations,” said Susan Mayne, Ph.D., director of the FDA Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. . “In addition to today’s action, we continue to advance a number of FDA initiatives and explore new ways to coordinate, leverage, and amplify the important work underway in the nutrition ecosystem to help improve people’s diets and have a profound impact on the health of current populations and future generations.”

In addition to empowering consumers, adoption of the updated definition may help foster a healthier food supply if some manufacturers reformulate (for example, add more vegetables or whole grains to meet criteria) or develop products that meet the updated definition.

Because consumers have long been interested in finding ways to more easily identify healthy foods, the agency is also studying and exploring the development of a symbol that manufacturers could use to show that their product meets the criteria for a “health” claim. The agency realizes that consumers are busy and, when shopping, may be looking for a quick way to identify and select healthy products. The updated health claim and potential symbol would act together as quick signals to help consumers more easily identify healthier food choices.

The FDA is participating in the White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health today and will continue to take action to support the National Strategy to Improve Nutrition and Health and Empower All Consumers to make and have access to healthy choices. Specifically, the agency remains committed to continuing to create a healthier food supply through its recently released guidelines for reducing sodium in processed, packaged and prepared foods; provide consumers with accessible nutritional information about the foods they eat; and to provide industry with recommendations on how to use dietary guidance statements on food labelling. Planned future actions include:

  • Develop a front-of-package (FOP) labeling system to quickly and more easily communicate nutritional information to enable consumers to make healthy decisions.
  • Facilitate the provision of nutritional information easily when buying groceries online.
  • Facilitate the reduction of sodium in foods in the food supply, including by publishing revised and lower voluntary sodium reduction targets for industry.
  • Hold a public meeting regarding future actions the federal government may take to facilitate the reduction of added sugar consumption.
  • Initiate additional education and awareness efforts to ensure parents and caregivers are aware of the latest recommendations for healthy eating in young children and to take steps to reduce exposure to toxic elements in food .

Related information

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Master key

The FDA, an agency of the United States Department of Health and Human Services, protects public health by ensuring the safety, efficacy, and safety of drugs, vaccines, and other biological products for human use, and medical devices. The agency is also responsible for the safety and security of the food supply, cosmetics, dietary supplements, electronic radiation emitting products and the regulation of tobacco products.