Recently, the FDA opened a public inquiry requesting comments on how to define the term “healthy” as it relates to the labels on packaged foods. While this appears only to immediately impact the retail sector, any time the FDA changes any regulation the potential exists that the food service industry will see the effects. We do not foresee any upcoming changes to ServSafe or food safety certification requirements, but this looks like an important topic to explore.
FDA Definition of Healthy and Food Safety Certification
The time period to give the FDA your opinion began on September 26th, so we would like to ask a few questions pertaining to this inquiry in case you plan on submitting your opinions.
• Should a government agency define healthy?
• Should the public define healthy?
• Is there one definition of healthy that works for all consumers?
It is not our intent to influence your opinion on what the FDA’s role is when it comes to the diet of consumers in our country, but we do think we should consider whether or not the FDA is responsible for deciding what healthy means. We all know that the FDA enforces and maintains regulations that keep our food supply safe from natural and man-made hazards, but does a food’s nutritional value fall under their department’s jurisdiction?
On the other hand, does the general populace have all of the information necessary to determine if a food is “healthy”? Even many experts disagree on which types of foods have health benefits and how much of each nutrient we need to consume. We all like to think that we know what is best for us, but how does product labeling influence our food choice decisions?
Finally, can we simply put the entire population in a box and tell them what is healthy for some is healthy for all. The FDA’s inquiry resulted from a complaint that foods rich in certain fats that have health benefits for some consumers are refused the “healthy” label. There may be questions as to whether refusing the “healthy” label to all foods that contain fats will prevent consumers from purchasing items that contain certain elements that may actually have nutritional value.
These are only a few of the questions that we have come up with that should be considered. If you’d like to submit your opinion, the FDA is currently accepting your comments on the topic of how to define “healthy” as a food label until January 26, 2017. We would also like to know how you feel about this topic so please leave your input in the comments section below.