FDA to Hold Public Meeting to Discuss the Use of the Term “Healthy” in Food Labeling

 ucm505353By Carolina M. Wirth

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA or agency) announced this week that it will be hold a public meeting on March 9, 2017, from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., to discuss the use of the term “healthy” in the labeling of food products.  As you may remember from our previous blog post, FDA issued a Federal Register Notice on September 28, 2016 inviting public comment on the term “healthy” generally, and as a nutrient content claim in the context of food labeling.   FDA was also seeking input on several specific questions.[i]

Following the FDA’s extension of the comment period until April 26, 2017, the public meeting will provide participants with an additional opportunity to engage in an open discussion about the use of the term “healthy.”  Specifically, interested parties will be able to provide information, share experiences and raise issues specifically related to the nutrient content claim “healthy,” including (but not limited to): “healthy” as a nutrient-based claim, food component-based claim, or both; “healthy” single definition or definition by category; consumer understanding of and responses to the term “healthy”; and when, if ever, the use of the term “healthy” may be false or misleading.

The public meeting will include an “introductory presentation, perspective panels, and multiple opportunities for individuals to express their opinions at the meeting through oral presentations, participation in breakout sessions, and submission of electronic or written comments.[ii]”  FDA will publish the agenda and other documents before the public meeting on its website.[iii]

FDA is encouraging interested parties to register early online to attend in person because space is limited.  Anyone interested in making an oral presentation must submit a request to the agency by February 21, 2017.  As noted above, FDA will continue to accept electronic or written comments on this topic until April 26, 2017.

[i] See Federal Register Notice entitled, Use of the Term ‘‘Healthy’’ in the Labeling of Human Food Products; Request for Information and Comments, 81 Fed. Reg. 66,562 (September 28, 2016), available at https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2016/09/28/2016-23365/use-of-the-term-healthy-in-the-labeling-of-human-food-products-request-for-information-and-comments.

[ii] See Federal Register Notice entitled “Use of the Term ‘Healthy’ in the Labeling of Human Food Products; Public Meeting; Request for Comments, 82 Fed. Reg. 10,868 (February 16, 2017), available at https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2017/02/16/2017-03117/use-of-the-term-healthy-in-the-labeling-of-human-food-products-public-meeting-request-for-comments.

[iii] The agenda and other documents will be accessible at http://www.fda.gov/Food/NewsEvents/WorkshipsMeetingsConferences/default.htm.

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