A Local Dietician Thinks the FDA’s New Healthy Label Could Mislead Consumers

Bottled water could be labeled as a healthy food with the FDA’s new definition . Brian Ford ©2018

Click the play button above to hear what a local dietitian has to say about the FDA’s changes regarding which foods can be labeled as healthy.

Audio Transcript: Mystoryscript

By Brian Ford SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC News) – The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is redefining which foods can be labeled as healthy.  Pizza bagels, chewing gum and bottled water are just a few of the foods that may be considered healthy because of the FDA’s change.

Some say labeling more foods as healthy could be misleading to consumers, especially those who are in a rush while food shopping.

A local dietitian said people should pay more attention to the nutrients in foods rather than look for a label that claims the food is healthy.

“Because a lot of people don’t have a lot of time, they go to the grocery store- the first thing they look at is the front of the package and if there’s a misleading healthy claim, they might grab that food,” said Julie Mellen, a dietitian at Upstate Medical University. “They might not take the next step and look at the nutrition facts to see if this is really a healthy food.”

Mellen also thinks health refers to someone’s overall diet, and not just individual foods. She said there is no generic healthy diet, because everyone’s body is different, which means different people require different foods.

“There are maybe good food choices and maybe not so good food choices,” said Mellen. “But all of those can be part of a healthy diet.”

Mellen’s patients have a wide variety of health concerns, and what she recommends they eat is determined by the problems they are dealing with.  For instance, if a patient has weight issues, she stresses paying attention to caloric intake. If the patient has heart issues, she will have them pay more attention to the types of fat in their diet.

She stresses the importance of serving size and reading nutrition labels with all of her patients. Using those two things is what Mellen thinks determines whether or not a food can be considered healthy.

The old federal standards for which foods are considered healthy dates back to 1994.