This post was written by Heather Sachs. Heather is a Registered Dietitian with a Masters degree in Clinical Nutrition. She has more than 15 years of experience combining her knowledge in food, nutrition, and regulatory affairs as well as translating science into impactful brand communication. Heather is currently Blue Apron’s Director of Regulatory Affairs.
In September 2022, Registered Dietitian’s around The United States received a long overdue gift. Following the industry’s 2015 challenge of the definition of the term healthy and subsequent comment period, FDA finally issued its proposed definition of the term Healthy when used as a claim on food packaging.
The goal of this new definition is to better align the term healthy with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, based on current science as well as the updated nutrition facts label.
Under this proposed definition, products may be labeled as “healthy” if they contain meaningful amounts of food from at least one of the food groups or subgroups recommended by the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGAs). (fruits, vegetables, dairy, whole grains, etc.)
The new proposed definition also aims to limit nutrients in certain food categories which in overabundance can lead to negative health outcomes (saturated fat, sodium, added sugar).
The additional focus on food groups that this expanded proposed definition introduces, rather than solely on a set of nutrients could help consumers more clearly identify food to choose to sustain healthy dietary practices.
FDA is also currently looking into the creation of a symbol to represent the term healthy which could be used on a product to convey the product meets the healthy criteria.
The regulatory definition of the term is complicated, but what does healthy actually mean to you?
Many people strive to follow a healthy diet. Depending on your lifestyle, healthy eating can look pretty different. You don’t have to follow an entirely organic, plant-based, and local style to feel like you’re making healthy choices.
Life is crazy, but healthy eating can be fun and enjoyable. Maybe some days you eat locally, while on busier days you rely on pre-prepared foods. Whether it’s takeout, cooking a meal from scratch, or cooking semi-prepped ingredients, the foods that we eat are an essential part of a healthy lifestyle.
It’s also important to consider mental health. For busy working parents, saving time by having a Blue Apron Wellness box delivered each week can free up time to spend with your family, and will deliver fresh produce straight to your door.
Healthy may have a strict regulatory definition, but that’s not necessarily the way we live our lives. It’s helpful to understand how the term is used in marketing, but it’s equally important to create your own definition of healthy for yourself and your family.