You would think that given its name, a Fruit & Nut Almond & Apricot Kind bar would be allowed to be labeled healthy, but the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had other ideas.
A letter issued to KIND, LLC, informed them that the company was not allowed to label several of its bars, such as the Fruit & Nut Almond & Coconut as healthy. The company was accused of mislabeling its products with phrases such as “healthy,” “plus,” “no trans fats,” “antioxidant-rich” and “good source of fiber.”
The FDA has a very strict definition of what counts as healthy food. In order to qualify as “healthy”, the food item must have no more than one gram of saturated fat, 15 percent of calories from saturated fat and 480 mg sodium. It must also contain at least 10 percent of the daily value for vitamins A, C, calcium, iron, protein or fiber.
Each one of the four bars, Fruit & Nut Almond & Coconut, Fruit & Nut Almond & Apricot, KIND Plus Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate + Protein and KIND Plus Dark Chocolate Cherry Cashew + Antioxidants that did not meet health requirements contained between two and a half and five grams of saturated fat per forty grams of bar and between nine and 13 grams of total fat. To put that in perspective, the American Heart Association recommends consuming 13 grams or less of saturated fat per day.
Many KIND bars come with plus signs on the packaging, and the FDA also has strict restrictions as to what types of products are allowed to have this plus sign on it. The plus symbol is used to indicate when a product has 10 percent or more of the daily recommended value of certain vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients.
Both the KIND Plus Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate + Protein and the Dark Chocolate Cherry Cashew + Antioxidants bars do not claim to have more nutrients than an average snack bar. The FDA is the organization that decides what is an average amount of nutrients in a snack bar.
So is KIND misleading its customers when it says its bars are in fact healthy? The Salt, a blog from The NPR science desk, reported that saturated fat may not be as bad as people make it out to be. For example. high-fat nuts help control appetite in order to keep weight down, reduce negative LDL cholesterol and lower the rates of heart disease and mortality.
“Nuts… contain nutritious fats that exceed the amount allowed under the FDA’s standard,” KIND wrote in a blog post.
The company willingly admitted that its labels do not meet FDA regulation, but KIND also questioned the FDA’s skewed definition of healthy.
Despite this minor setback, KIND has been a successful company.
“I had a gut feeling that this product was magical and delicious, but I didn’t think that it would be what it became,” founder and CEO Daniel Lubetzky said to CBS News.
Lubetzky added that the company’s sales have doubled every year for the past decade, making it the fastest growing energy bar on the market. Americans have consumed more than one billion KIND bars since the launch of the company in 2004.
Some consumers have worried that drastic change would occur to several of KIND products as it attempts to change its bars to meet the “health” standards.
“We couldn’t be more proud of our snack foods and their nutritional benefits,” the company said in an earlier statement. “While we make these updates to our packaging and our website, please know that our recipes will stay the same.”