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Which one do you think is healthy between a handful of almonds and a Pop-Tart? Or between an avocado and a can of SpaghettiOs? Probably not the one you have in mind based on the current FDA definition. As explained in this recent article of the WSJ (or see the video below), food can only be marketed as healthy if it meets five criteria: fat, saturated fat, sodium, cholesterol and beneficial nutrients, such as vitamin C or Calcium.
But it might change. Under the pressure of some food companies the FDA admitted that it is time to revisit the definition of this term. At Buzzback we already explored the meaning of healthy at several occasions.
In 2013, BuzzBack conducted a study on consumers’ perception of ‘Healthy’ and found that it was associated with words one would expect to see – active, exercise, balance, and happiness; with unique callouts to predictable descriptors such as ‘organic,’ ‘wholesome,’ and ‘natural’ within various markets. And when we asked about healthy snacks, respondents mentioned across the globe fruit, yogurt, nuts, and dried fruit. In the US, they particularly focused on low sugar to define what makes a healthy snack, however the FDA doesn't even list sugar as a criteria. The public definitely does not share the same definition as the FDA but the US regulator is ready to hear what they have to say as well as food experts.
Across many studies we conducted for our CPG clients, we observe that consumers want more clarity in the labels of products they buy at their grocery store. Beyond helping the FDA to redefine overused mentions as ‘healthy’ or ‘natural,’ food manufacturers have to work more broadly on making their labels more transparent to answer the consumers’ request for a clean label. Stay tuned as we are working on a new study about clean labels as we continue to explore the meaning of healthy.