March 9, 2017

The FDA Needs Revision

The current FDA needs revision and a house cleaning, top to bottom. An article in Fee.Org lays out the reasons – FDA says pop-tarts are healthier than avocados.

According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Frosted Flakes cereal and Pop Tarts are healthy foods, but foods containing large amounts of nuts are not. However, the FDA might be changing its tune.

Currently, in order to use the term “healthy” on a product’s packaging, the product in question must not exceed three grams of fat. However, this means products like almonds and avocados, which both have enormous health benefits, would be considered, “unhealthy” by the FDA’s standards.

Due largely to government diet guidelines issued in the 70s, “low fat” diets became a huge trend in the 80s and 90s, as many believed that fats found in food were responsible for weight gain. In the past several years, scientific advances have cast doubt on this paradigm, to say the least. Even Time Magazine recently ran a cover proclaiming, "Eat Butter. Scientists Labeled Fat the Enemy. Why They Were Wrong."

Not all fats are created equal. For example, the fats found in foods like nuts and avocados are incredibly healthy for you. However, thanks to the FDA standards, these healthy fats cannot be marketed to consumers as “healthy” products.

Given what we now know about fats, the FDA is considering revising its definition of “healthy.” The catalyst for this change is the company KIND, whose gluten-free bars contain large amounts of nuts, thus making its fat content too high to be deemed “healthy” under current FDA standards. The company would like to market its products as “healthy,” but have been unable to do so.

After the FDA reprimanded the company for putting “healthy and tasty” on their labels, KIND pushed back. After receiving a complaint from the company, the FDA decided it might be time to make some changes to their definition of “healthy.”

"We are pleased that the FDA is looking into" revising its definition, says Daniel Lubetzky, the CEO of KIND bars.

Other health experts have chimed in on the “great fat debate” as well. Thomas Sherman, an associate professor at Georgetown University, who teaches courses to medical students on nutrition, said, "Nuts have healthy fats ... that we know are good for cardiovascular health and mental health and are good sources of protein.” He continued, "Nuts are a wonderful component of our diet."

Although this is certainly not the first time government science has been found to be inaccurate, one thing that is certain, the FDA’s current definition of “healthy” is absolutely nuts.

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