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FDA Proposes New Rules for “Healthy” Labeling – Food Companies Push Back

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently proposed new guidelines for what can be labeled as “healthy.”[0] According to the FDA, in order for a food to be labeled as “healthy,” it must include a certain amount of nutritious ingredients such as fruits and vegetables, and have little added sugar, sodium, and saturated fat. This has caused a ripple across the food industry, with companies concerned that their products won’t meet the new standards.

The proposal has been widely supported by nutrition experts, who say it is a significant improvement from the FDA’s previous rules.[1] However, the Consumer Brands Association, which represents General Mills, Hostess, Pepsi, and other food giants, is attacking the FDA’s definition of “healthy” and is implying that it may sue.[0]

Under the proposed guidelines, avocados, nuts, and some fatty fish like salmon would be able to use the “healthy” label, while sugary cereals, sweetened yogurts, and frozen meals would be disqualified. Marion Nestle, an emeritus professor of nutrition and public health at New York University, noted that the FDA’s regulations “automatically excludes the vast majority of heavily processed foods in supermarkets, as well as a lot of plant-based meat, eggs, and dairy products,” from bearing the healthy claim.[1]

Food companies have argued that they can’t meet the FDA’s standards without alienating consumers, and that reducing sugars to the level proposed by FDA for the “healthy” claim would result in significant, deleterious effects to product quality, taste, and texture.[2]

A healthy portion of cereal should have 0.75 ounces of whole grains, no more than 1 gram of saturated fat, 230 milligrams of sodium, and 2.5 grams of added sugars.[3] Meanwhile, the National Pasta Association is making the case that noodles should be labeled healthy because pasta dishes often include nutritious ingredients like tomatoes and veggies.[0] Pickle Packers International, a lobbyist group, has claimed that pickles should be considered healthy because they are predominantly comprised of vegetables and serve as a condiment to other nutrient-dense foods.[2]

0. “FDA Proposes New Definition of “Healthy” Foods, But Brands Are Mad” Katie Couric Media, 22 Feb. 2023,

1. “Cereal, pasta companies blast FDA for strict definition of ‘healthy'” STAT, 21 Feb. 2023,

2. “PICKLES won't be considered ‘healthy' in strict new FDA labeling rules because they're ‘too salty'” Daily Mail, 21 Feb. 2023,

3. “What to Know About the FDA's New Nutrition Label Rules” Gizmodo, 23 Feb. 2023,

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