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March 14, 2019

Petition asks FDA to regulate misleading advertising on food packaging

From the makers of Kind granola bars and public health experts

Healthy Eating Nutrition
misleading food packaging petition

Unless a person suffers from a food allergy or some other dietary restriction, there’s a good chance they will not even glance at the nutrition label. In fact, less than one-third of people report frequently reading the nutrition label, according to a 2018 study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Many consumers are tricked by “healthy” claims on the front of packaging, or placement of products in the health food or organic aisle.

To combat that, a new citizens’ petition asks the FDA to update its regulations for these claims, Fast Company reports. “We realized that the entire nutrient content claim regime was broken,” says Daniel Lubetzky, CEO of the snack company KIND, which worked with public health experts on the petition. Kind granola bars are known for their straight-forward packaging that list their sugar count on the front of each individual bar.

RELATED READ: Nutrition Fact labels gets a makeover — here's what they look like

“By bringing greater rigor to the use of nutrient claims, FDA can increase label transparency and help people better identify foods that contribute to a healthy diet, which KIND has long advocated for,” Lubetzky explains.

He went on to tell Fast Company that consumers are ending up getting duped, buying foods they think are healthy and helpful “because of claims like ‘excellent source of vitamins,’ when in fact it might be just a sugar delivery vehicle.”

Per Runner’s World, the petition urges the FDA to make it standard for companies to make it known on the front of food packages if there’s a lot of sugar or fat in the product in addition to being a “great source of fiber.” The petition is also urging the FDA to disclose the amounts of trans fats and added sugars. 

If the FDA does decide to make any changes based on this petition, it won’t be the first time food packaging underwent an overhaul. In fact, the FDA has made a whole host of changes to food labels throughout the past few years. 

Most recently, in 2016, the government agency announced that Nutrition Facts labels had to show the latest scientific info, including how a poor diet is related to things like heart disease and obesity. The font of calorie count was made larger, the serving sizes were updated to be more realistic, and the number of servings per package were highlighted, too, Runner’s World reports.

It’s worth noting that some companies have already made these changes to the back of their products, however they will all be updated by January 1, 2021.

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