The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Wednesday proposed updates to its 28-year-old definition of “healthy” foods.

FDA is claiming that this proposed rule would align the definition of the “healthy” claim with current nutrition science, the updated Nutrition Facts label, and the current 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

The proposed rule came in conjunction with the White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health. Leading up to the conference, the National Chicken Council (NCC) submitted comments to the Biden administration that reinforced the value of chicken as a safe, wholesome, planet-friendly and nutritious food that can be part of the solution to end hunger and reduce diet-related diseases in the U.S.

“Lean meats like chicken can help close the protein gap among Americans who struggle with food and nutrient insecurity, which particularly impacts women, children, and older adults who have greater need for nutrient-dense animal-sourced foods to support healthy diets,” NCC said in the comments. “We believe that every American deserves increased access to safe, wholesome, planet-friendly, and nutritious foods like chicken.”

Foods that meet the following criteria will be eligible to leverage the “healthy” claim:

  • Contain a certain meaningful amount of food from at least one food group or subgroup (e.g., fruit, vegetable, dairy, etc.), as 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, and varies depending on the food and food group. The limit for sodium is 10 percent of the DV per serving (230 milligrams per serving).

For example, a cereal would need to contain ¾ ounces of whole grains and contain no more than 1 gram of saturated fat, 230 milligrams of sodium and 2.5 grams of added sugars.

As it relates to the definition of healthy and protein foods, the FDA is proposing to divide protein foods into the following subgroups:

  1. Game meats
  2. Seafood
  3. Eggs
  4. Beans, peas, lentils and soy products
  5. Nuts and seeds

FDA subgroups do not include traditional animal sources of protein whose labeling is regulated by the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), including chicken. Thus, chicken is not included in this new proposed definition of healthy.

FDA stated that the new proposed definition of healthy is based on the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which describes lean meats, such as chicken, as nutrient-dense protein food options that can fit into any healthy eating plan.

Comments on the proposed rule can be submitted within 90 days after publication in the Federal Register. Submit electronic comments to http://www.regulations.gov. All comments should be identified with the docket number FDA-2016-D-2335.

 

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