The United States Federal Department of Agriculture: sometimes they’re so backwards it’s mindblowing. What are we referring to this time? The FDA has asked the KIND Snacks company to remove the word “healthy,” as well as the “+” symbol, from its snack bar packaging.
Why? Short answer: too many saturated fats and too little vitamin and mineral content.
While this may seem reasonable on the face of it, saturated fats from natural sources have been found to be healthy; lowering heart disease risk, supporting optimal organ function, and providing a nutritous source of energy are just a few of their benefits.
However, in order to be able to sport the FDA’s “healthy” label, a bar must contain less than one gram of saturated fats. A few varieties of KIND Bars were found to have over 2.5 grams. The sources of the saturated fats? According to KIND, which prides itself on “ingredients you can see & pronounce,” the sources of these saturated fats are nuts, chocolate, coconut oil, and palm oil.
According to Dr. Walter Willett, Chair of the Department of Nutrition at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, “it’s a bit ridiculous that saturated fat from nuts should be counted against a product, because nuts are about one of the healthiest choices you could possibly make. This is an example of something with good intentions based on concepts that are hugely obsolete.”
Willet added, “maybe on these individual foods, it’s better to get rid of the saturated fat criteria entirely. They are made from healthy foods and [the company] should be able to say that their product is healthy.” Nuts, as Dr. Willett points out, have been found to be remarkably healthy, both for the cardiovascular system, and many other systems. Coconut oil too, is a highly nutritious superfood.
So, what about the “+” symbol? Well, for the FDA’s marketing purposes, as Anna Almendrala at The Huffington Post explains, it indicates, “at least 10 percent more of the daily recommended intake for vitamins and minerals as compared to an appropriate reference food, or that the food is fortified with vitamins and nutrients in accordance with certain FDA policies.” If this seems vague to you, you’re not alone. Maybe the FDA is upset that KIND is not filling its bars with synthetic, hard-to-process vitamins and minerals.
To be clear, we’re not advocating processed foods, and although we appreciate KIND’s mission to use real ingredients, we maintain that eating raw nuts, fruits, and organic, raw, dark chocolate in their whole, unprocessed form – and making your own snack bars at home – is always best.
What we are saying is that it is absurd that a snack bar with unpronounceable ingredients, a load of synthetic nutrients, and highly refined “low-fat” oils could receive the FDA’s “healthy” and “+” labels, while a snack bar striving to use only real ingredients cannot.
We’re sorry FDA, but we’re not looking to your labels for guidance. We will choose whole, real ingredients, no matter what you try to tell us is “healthy.” On the whole, we find your guidance to be quite misguided.
-The Alternative Daily