ROCKVILLE, Md. -- The Food and Drug Administration here has issued a final rule to allow the use of the term "healthy" on the labels of certain frozen and canned fruits and vegetables and enriched grains and cereals.
A proposed rule had been issued in February 1996, followed by a comment period. This final rule is meant to encourage greater use of foods recommended in the U.S. Dietary Guidelines for the maintenance of health, an FDA talk paper released late last month noted.
The FDA first allowed the descriptor of "healthy" on food with at least 10% per serving of the Daily Value of vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, iron and fiber, if it also was low in fat and met the recommended limits for sodium and cholesterol. The FDA extended the rule to raw produce, based on its significant contribution to a healthy diet.
After publication of this 1994 rule, the American Frozen Food Institute, McLean, Va., and the National Food Processors Association, Washington, petitioned for the same descriptor for single-ingredient fruits and vegetables because they're nutritionally equivalent to raw produce.
The FDA initially approved the extension of the healthy claim in 1996, in part because of data submitted by the AFFI as well as the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which showed that nutrient profiles on selected raw fruits and vegetables and their frozen counterparts were about the same. Some data even showed that the nutrient levels for frozen fruits and vegetables were higher, probably because raw food loses nutrients the longer it is stored.
AFFI president Steven Anderson praised the ruling in a press release, saying that "Frozen fruits and vegetables are now officially where they should be: on a level playing field with fresh produce."