Misleading Labels? The Worst Snack News Ever
Please don't shoot the messenger, but a new letter from the Food and Drug Administration to the makers of KIND bars said certain versions of the popular nut and fruit snack, which describes itself on its website and labeling as "healthy and tasty," are actually allegedly not as good for us as we've always thought. According to FDA requirements, some KIND bars allegedly aren't healthy enough to use the "healthy" adjective. In the letter, the FDA claimed KIND bars "do not meet the requirements for use of the nutrient content claim 'healthy' on a food label" under the law, though KIND told Bustle it still believes the snacks are good for you and is working to immediately correct the labeling issue. So why, oh why, did the FDA have to kill our dreams? Apparently, it all comes down to saturated fat.
At least four of the bars are in violation of these "healthy" labeling requirements, the letter states. The FDA said the four kinds of KIND bars — Fruit & Nut Almond & Apricot, Fruit & Nut Almond & Coconut, Plus Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate + Protein, and Fruit & Nut Dark Chocolate Cherry Cashew — have too much saturated fat to be considered healthy by FDA standards. The FDA standard of "healthy" is less than 1 gram of saturated fat, while the dried fruit and almond bar contains 3.5 grams, the letter, which is published on the FDA website, says.
The letter, dated March 17 and released to the public Tuesday, said the company must take "prompt action to correct the violations." Senior Vice President of Communications at KIND, Joe Cohen, said the company is already taking action regarding the letter from the FDA. Cohen said in a statement sent to Bustle:
Nuts, key ingredients in many of our snacks and one of the things that make fans love our bars, contain nutritious fats that exceed the amount allowed under the FDA's standard. There is an overwhelming body of scientific evidence supporting that nuts are wholesome and nutritious. This is similar to other foods that do not meet the standard for use of the term healthy, but are generally considered to be good for you like avocados, salmon and eggs. Our team at KIND is fully committed to working alongside the FDA, and we’re moving quickly to comply with its request.
The FDA had other problems with KIND's labeling, including the company's use of the "+" symbol and phrases such as "antioxidant-rich," a "Good Source of Fiber," and "no trans fats." The agency even said the company information listed on the bars wasn't clear enough: "FDA is unable to determine the physical location of your firm using a city or telephone directory and the address listed on the label," the letter said.
This is very saddening news. After all, Bloomberg pointed out that KIND's sales might have surged because Americans have moved toward savory snacks and demanded better ingredients. KIND products are sold in 150,000 retail stores in the U.S. In 2014, the company sold 458 million units, more than triple the amount sold over the last two years, Daniel Lubetzky, the company’s chief executive officer told Bloomberg. The FDA said it could order the snack bars removed from store shelves or seek a court order if KIND doesn't fix its labeling. But as Cohen said and a letter on the company's blog reiterated, the company will be fixing the labeling, but the ingredients of KIND bars won't change. They said the FDA complaint "cuts to the core of who we are," but that it won't compromise using whole grains, nuts, and seeds.