Think You Know What “Healthy Food” Is? Think Again…

Chances are, you have a pretty good idea what the definition of “healthy food” is.  Chances are, your idea differs from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Current FDA regulations were drafted more than 20 years ago.  Remember dietary trends in the 1990s?  Everyone wanted “low fat” or “no fat.”  The amount of sugar in foods was largely ignored.

Back then, food manufacturers discovered that removing fat from their foods also removed flavor.  So they increased the amount of sugar to compensate.  As a result, 20 years after the “no fat” craze, obesity is even more widespread in the U.S. and other developed countries.

When the FDA first defined “healthy” in 1994, the agency only looked at five criteria:

  • Fat
  • Saturated fat
  • Sodium
  • Cholesterol
  • Beneficial nutrients (such as vitamin C or Calcium)

As a result, almonds and avocados cannot currently be marketed as “healthy” because of their fat content.  Conversely, sugar-laden breakfast cereals can be marketed as “healthy” because they are low in fat and fortified with vitamins.

Today, nutritionists know that “healthy fats” are actually good for you.  They also know that too much sugar is bad for you.  As a result, the FDA is planning to update their official definition of “healthy.”  In addition to working with food and nutrition experts, they also plan to solicit public opinion.

Agilent is one of the world’s leading providers of technology solutions for food safety and food quality.  Our instruments, systems, and supplies are used throughout the food production chain, including incoming inspection, new product development, quality control and assurance, and packaging. Agilent stays informed of the latest trends and issues in the industry, and develops systems and applications that meet the latest requirements.


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