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Tuesday, June 2, 2020

WESTERN WELLNESS: FOOD LABELS

Healthy foods may seem easily recognizable in grocery store aisles, but don’t let the packaging fool you.

Over 800,000 food products will be affected by new package labeling by July 2018 due to new Food and Drug Administration regulations that will require labels to note added sugars, updated information about included fats and updated serving sizes.

Here is a look at what the new labels will look like:

The current criteria for determining which foods are considered healthy was set by the FDA in 1994. According to the organization, these foods must have at least 10 percent of recommended vitamins and nutrients like proteins and fiber.

In the decades since FDA regulations were put in place, studies suggest health doesn’t only depend on low fat content, but rather what types of fat are included, Joan Salge Blake, a clinical professor in Boston University’s nutrition program said.

In March 2015, the FDA sent a warning letter to the company that makes KIND bars, telling them to change their labeling, according to the FDA website. The packaging of the bars made nutrient claims that didn’t meet certain criteria of the FDA. The company followed instructions and removed the labeling, but not without a fight.

According to a statement from May 10 on the FDA’s website, although KIND can not use the term “healthy” on their product, they are allowed to say “tasty and healthy” as a corporate philosophy, but not as an actual claim. In the statement, the FDA admits it is time to reevaluate regulations on how to use the word “healthy.”

Sophomore Sasha Alden said she doesn’t often look for the word “healthy” on food labels while grocery shopping. She has found a lot of products that say they are healthy, yet aren’t.

“‘Healthy’ is an arbitrary term,” Alden said. “ Eating sugar [and] having fats is okay.”

Foods like nuts and salmon are high in unsaturated fats, the good type of fat, but since they exceed the limits set by the FDA, they cannot be marketed as healthy. Foods must contain less than 13 grams of total fat per portion, according to the FDA website. One half fillet of uncooked salmon contains 22 grams of total fat, while one cup of almonds has 73 grams of total fat.

Unsaturated fats do not raise low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, which is the bad cholesterol according to the FDA.

Cereals and other snacks were found to have several added sugars, yet still meet criteria for being marked as healthy because they meet requirements in other areas.

What do you think about the upcoming food label changes in comparison to the current system? Let The Western Front know in the comments.

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