If it's marked healthy, is it really healthy? White House works to disclose deceptive food labels

A key part of Pres. Joe Biden's plan is updating the Food and Drug Administration's definition of what a "healthy" food means.

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Thursday, September 29, 2022
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Grocery store aisles are filled with products that say "healthy" on the package, but labels on the outside don't always tell the truth about what's on the inside.

WASHINGTON (KABC) -- Grocery store aisles are filled with products that say "healthy" on the package, but labels on the outside don't always tell the truth about what's on the inside.

"It can be very, very deceiving, of course," said Remy Peters, a registered dietician with Providence St. Joseph Medical Center.

To make it easier for consumers to know what they're getting, President Joe Biden unveiled his national strategy to end hunger and reduce diet-related diseases by 2030.

"Help more Americans access the food that will keep their families nourished and healthy. Give folks the option and information they need to make healthy dietary choices," said Biden.

A key part of the plan is updating the Food and Drug Administration's definition of what a "healthy" food means.

For the first time, salmon and certain nuts can now make that claim on packaging despite being higher in fat.

"Now, these can actually boast what is true, that they are healthy types of fats. Salmon with the Omega-3s can squash inflammation," Peters said.

She said an FDA proposal to put nutritional labels on the front of packages rather than the back would help consumers make better choices.

"I think it's important to have them out in front so that people can just pick something up and read it right away and decide if this is something that I want to put in my body or not," said Peters.

For a product to be labeled healthy, it must meet certain criteria. For example, a serving of cereal would need to contain ounces of whole grains and no more than a gram of saturated fat, 230 milligrams of sodium and 2 1/2 of added sugars.

"'Healthy' should have a claim that's actually backed by research and science," said Peters.

Health officials say diet-related chronic conditions, such as heart disease and diabetes, are the leading causes of death and disability.

A lot of it comes down to the daily decisions we all make about food.

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