The Food and Drug Administration is considering changing the “use of the term ‘healthy’ in the labeling of human food products.” At a recent public hearing on this topic, registered dietician Pam Schoenfeld attended and spoke, representing both the Weston A. Price Foundation and the American public. Her purpose was to remind the FDA (and all in attendance) that there are many foods right now that would not qualify as “healthy” under current (and perhaps future) labeling practice. And yet, these foods offer important nutrients that are under-represented in the diet of most Americans.
In today’s episode, Pam discusses exactly what she was planning on saying at the hearing, and why. She is passionate about educating the public, and public officials, about the benefits of traditional, whole, real foods. Pam, herself, came to the Wise Traditions diet later in life, and she wishes she had known many years ago what she now knows.
She touches on the vitamins and minerals that are critical to our well-being–including choline and vitamin A. She talks about nutrient-density and how these foods offer what we need most. She also addresses why it’s so important for us to keep advocating for real health foods (found in real food, of course) and she concludes with specific instructions for how to add your voice to this health-saving and life-critical discussion.
Pam Schoenfield connected with Wise Traditions podcast host the day before she was scheduled to participate in public comments to the FDA about the current practice of labeling foods as “healthy.” Pam disagrees with this practice, since the science and understanding of what constitutes health foods continues to evolve at a rate which exceeds the ability of such labeling to keep up. Pam also believes that the practice of fortifying foods with vitamins and minerals further confuses the issue of which foods are truly nutritious and which deserve the label “healthy.” In this interview, Pam provides compelling arguments for the healthiest of all foods—those that are whole, real, and nutrient-dense.
Below are highlights from our conversation:
- Within the last 18 months, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has acknowledged that its regulations around nutrient labeling should be reevaluated to reflect the evolution in nutrition research.
- The catalyst for this reevaluation seems to revolve around a confrontation with the “Kind” Snacks company. Initially, the company was told they could not use the word “healthy” on packages of its nut bars, because the fat content of the nuts exceeded the FDA’s recommendations for a “healthy” product: three grams of total fat and the one gram of saturated fat per serving. They protested the FDA’s denial of the label.
- As a representative of the American public, and in her role as a board member of the Weston A. Price Foundation, Pam prepared a brief presentation for the FDA’s public comment hearings on the subject of “the use of the term healthy in labeling human food products.”
- Pam’s remarks included the following facts:
- Currently, individuals whose diet adhered to the various government agency guidelines, including the Institute of Medicine (IOM) and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) would have a difficult time making sure they received enough of several key nutrients, including vitamins A, B12, and K, zinc, iron and choline.
- These guidelines are provided in educational literature provided to individuals receiving food stamps, and are followed in the preparation of meals to key populations, including school children, military personnel, the prison population and certain groups of elderly people.
- While the FDA and other agencies have good intentions in its food labeling and other educational outreach about healthy diets, inevitably important information is omitted, for example, instructions on how to prepare foods properly to ensure access to the nutrients they possess.
- Traditional cooking methods have been forgotten in favor of information stemming from government literature, with the result that people are receiving less rather than more nutrition from their food.
- The following four foods currently cannot be labeled healthy by the FDA standards, despite the fact that they are important sources of key nutrients not readily available from other foods: beef (iron, zinc); eggs (vitamins A and B 12, folate and choline); chicken livers (vitamins A and B12, and iron; hard cheese (calcium and vitamin K). *
- None of the USDA government dietary plans offer the minimum amount of choline necessary for good nutrition.
- Another challenge is that the various government agency guidelines are not aligned with one another.
- Pam recommends that we all return to the traditional diets and foods of our ancestors for optimal health.
- She believes kale currently has a “health halo” that will eventually fade and be replaced by the next trendy food.
- For optimal health, she suggests we all include liver in our diets.
- She also recommends that we weigh in on the topic of what foods deserve the label “healthy.” (See link below to comment on this docket to the FDA.)
To comment to the FDA on the topic of “healthy” for food labeling:
Refer to Docket number: FDA-2016-D-2335