Healthy Gets a Facelift

by | September 28, 2022

Just when consumers thought they’d figured out what’s healthy, regulators want to change things up. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) just announced new guidelines for “healthy” food that differ by product type. The new guidelines, however, do establish a baseline nutrient density. But the proposal limits unhealthy ingredients, such as added sugars and saturated fats, that can be in a food item.

The FDA’s latest proposal brings the agency’s definition of healthy more in line with established nutrition science research. Under the proposed definition, for a company to add a “healthy” claim on food packaging, the products would need to:

HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra.
  • Contain a certain meaningful amount of food from at least one of the food groups or subgroups, recommended by the Dietary Guidelines
  • Adhere to specific limits for certain nutrients, such as saturated fat, sodium and added sugars. The threshold for the limits is based on a percent of the Daily Value (DV) for the nutrient. The limit for sodium is 10% of the DV per serving (230 milligrams per serving).

“Nutrition is key to improving our nation’s health,” Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra said in a statement. “Healthy food can lower our risk for chronic disease. But too many people may not know what constitutes healthy food. [The] FDA’s move will help educate more Americans to improve health outcomes, tackle health disparities and save lives.”

Despite the industry settling on a definition of “healthy” back in 1994, regulators have been wrestling with this last iteration for about six years.

Speaking of definitions…

It turned out to be a big year for the food and beverage business for various reasons. But few could have predicted it would be such a big deal to the wordsmiths over at Merriam-Webster.

Every year, the vocabulary vendors at Merriam-Webster embrace our evolving language and welcome new words into the pantheon.

“The dictionary chronicles how the language grows and changes,” the authors wrote earlier this month. “When many people use a word in the same way, over a long enough period of time, that word becomes eligible for inclusion.”

For 2022, the experts inducted 370 words into the dictionary, but for supply chain veterans, some of these won’t be new. And, yes, “supply chain” made it in this year, despite first appearing back in 1948. Some of those old chestnuts include:

  • Greenwash: verb 1: to make something appear to be more environmentally friendly or less environmentally damaging than it really is. 2: to mislead (someone) by means of greenwashing greenwash. noun: something intended to make a product, policy, activity, etc. appear to be more environmentally friendly than it is.
  • Shrinkflation: the practice of reducing a product’s amount or volume per unit while continuing to offer it at the same price.
  • Pumpkin spice: a mixture of ingredients, usually cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, and allspice, used in pumpkin pie.
  • Omakase noun: a series of small servings or courses (as of sushi) offered at a fixed price and whose selection is left to the chef’s discretion.
  • Ras el hanout: a mixture of ground spices that is used in northern African cooking and includes coriander, ginger, turmeric, peppercorns, cumin, cinnamon, cardamom, cayenne pepper, and other spices.
  • Mojo: a sauce, marinade, or seasoning that is usually composed primarily of olive oil, garlic, citrus juice, and spices (such as black pepper and cumin).
  • Birria: a Mexican dish of stewed meat seasoned especially with chili peppers.
  • Oat milk: a liquid made from ground oats and water that is usually fortified (as with calcium and vitamins) and used as a milk substitute.
  • Sessionable of alcoholic beverages: having a light body and a lower-than-average percentage of alcohol.
  • Plant-based 1: made or derived from plants. 2: consisting primarily or entirely of food (such as vegetables, fruits, nuts, oils, and beans) derived from plants.

It doesn’t matter if it’s changing regulatory definitions or slippery consumer sentiment that’s making new product development a moving target. Uncertainty is often your R&D team’s worst enemy. But you can provide some stability by showing them TraceGains Gather™, the industry’s first – and only – networked ingredients marketplace. Learn how agility, automation, and intelligence can help you stay ahead of regulators and your competition.

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