What does the term “healthy” mean to you? For some it means cutting out foods like meat or dairy. For others it means adding more vegetables to their diet. Healthy is a subjective word; it’s hard to define. Many people have trouble figuring out exactly what they should eat because there is a grey area when it comes to what determines healthy vs. unhealthy foods.
To that end, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is trying to redefine healthy foods so that when it comes time to go grocery shopping, Americans can quickly read over the nutritional facts and know whether or not they want to buy something. In this fast-paced society, families rarely have the time to spend hours in the supermarket. The FDA’s plans are an effort to encourage healthier eating and take the mysticism away from purchasing healthy foods.
A lot of research has been done on nutrition over the years, and the FDA decided on September 27, 2016 that they would be looking into redefining the term “healthy” on packaging. The Director of the FDA, Douglas Balentine has said, “As our understanding about nutrition has evolved, we need to make sure the definition for the ‘healthy’ labeling claim stays up to date.” What was healthy as early as 10 years ago is now not considered to be healthy. For example, not too long ago it was decided that the fat content in foods made you gain weight. Nutritionists now believe that it’s not so much the quantity of fat but the quality. There are now different classifications of fat such as unsaturated, saturated, trans fat, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated.
Balentine has said that he hopes this new definition of healthy will spark creativity in companies, helping them to find new ways for their foods to be healthier. The best thing food manufacturers can do is to create and reformulate their least nutritious items to make them more healthful and to give the consumer more options at the grocery store.
The FDA doesn’t plan on taking on this process alone. The administration is requesting that Americans send in their own personal definitions of healthy food to the FDA for consideration.