KIND Healthy Snacks (KIND®) announced that it has been notified by the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) that it can use the term healthy on its packaging as it had before – a reversal of the position the FDA took more than a year ago. The acknowledgment comes after much public conversation among health and nutrition leaders about how the term healthy can be used on food labels, and why the agency's 20-year-old standards are in need of an update.

"At KIND, healthy has always been more than just a word on a label, so when we were asked to remove the term from our wrappers, it cut to the core of who we are," said Daniel Lubetzky, Founder & CEO of KIND. "While we're pleased the FDA affirmed that KIND can put healthy back on our wrappers, just as we had it before, it doesn't change what always has been and will remain our focus – to create delicious snacks made with wholesome ingredients."

The reversal follows a warning letter issued by the agency in March 2015, requesting removal of the word healthy from the back panel of four KIND wrappers and its web site. After receiving the letter, KIND sought to better educate itself on the regulation in question, which states, in part, that snack foods labeled with healthy as a nutrient content claim can't have more than 3g of total fat or 1g of saturated fat per serving. Nuts, a primary ingredient in KIND bars, contain nutritious fats that exceed the amount allowed under this standard. While the company initially responded by removing healthy from its four wrappers, it maintained that its usage wasn't a nutrient content claim. The FDA has since agreed its usage is permissible under the current rules.

In examining the regulation, which was established more than two decades ago, KIND also learned that it precludes foods generally considered to be good for you – like nuts, avocados and salmon – from being labeled as healthy. However, it allows items like fat-free chocolate pudding, some sugary cereals and low-fat toaster pastries to carry the healthy designation.

"The current regulatory definition of healthy is inconsistent with federal guidelines and scientific research, as today we know it's advisable to prioritize eating whole foods, including nuts, plants, whole grains and seafood," said David L. Katz, MD, MPH, FACPM, FACP, Director of the Yale University Prevention Research Center, who has served as a nutrition adviser to KIND. "I applaud KIND for entering the policy conversation, their commitment to public health, and their appropriate focus on food over nutrients. I applaud the FDA, as well, for acknowledging that sometimes, companies get it right, while regulations, however well intended, can fall out of date."

In December 2015, to help facilitate the delivery of clear and consistent dietary guidance to consumers, KIND – with the support of leading nutrition and public health experts – filed a Citizen Petition. The Petition urged the FDA to update its requirements related to the term healthy to emphasize the importance of eating real foods and nutrient-dense ingredients as part of healthy eating patterns.