The Food and Drug Administration recently issued a warning to KIND snacks saying their labels are making false claims.
The FDA takes issue with some of the claims on KIND bar labels including:
- “good source of fiber,”
- “no trans fats,”
- “very low sodium” [Kind Fruit & Nut Almond & Apricot, Kind Fruit & Nut Almond & Coconut, and Kind Plus Dark Chocolate Cherry Cashew + Antioxidants],
- “low sodium” [Kind Plus Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate + Protein],
- “+ antioxidants” [Kind Plus Dark Chocolate Cherry Cashew + Antioxidants],
- “50% DV antioxidants vitamins A, C and E” [Kind Plus Dark Chocolate Cherry Cashew + Antioxidants],
- “+ protein” [Kind Plus Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate + Protein], and
- “7g protein” [Kind Plus Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate + Protein]
KIND bars has responded by assuring customers that,
“We couldn’t be more proud of our snack foods and their nutritional benefits. While we make these updates to our packaging and our website, please know that our recipes will stay the same.”
I, for one, don’t eat store-bought snack bars. I prefer to make my own with full control over my ingredients. (See my favorite two ingredient energy bar recipe.) However, I have some strong opinions about the KIND bar controversy and offer this letter to the FDA.
With all of the deceit happening in our food industry, I am befuddled that you would pick on KIND Bars. Other food companies can use the word “natural” with abandon, and yet you spend your time going after a company with a pronounceable list of ingredients.
Compare KIND bars with foods manufactured by Frito-Lay, a subsidiary of Pepsico, the nation’s most profitable food company. Here’s what Frito-Lay says about their products:
“At Frito-Lay, we make great tasting snacks that start with high-quality ingredients. Many Frito-Lay chips start with corn or potatoes and are cooked in corn, sunflower, and canola oil, which have less than 20 percent of the “bad” saturated fat, 80 percent or more of the “good” unsaturated fat and 0 grams trans fat per serving.”
Before we get to the issue of fat, consider the ingredient list of Doritos, one of Frito-Lay’s top sellers. This is only a partial list of ingredients:
“Disodium phosphate, lactose, natural and artificial flavor, dextrose, tomato powder, spices, lactic acid, artificial color (including Yellow 6, Yellow 5, Red 40), citric acid, sugar, garlic powder, red and green bell pepper powder, sodium caseinate, disodium inosinate, disodium guanylate, nonfat milk solids, whey protein isolate, corn syrup solids.”
Yellow 6, Yellow 5, and Red 40 are petroleum-based food dyes. They have been banned in countries like Norway and Finland. These are high quality ingredients? I understand there are no health claims on a package of Doritos, but wouldn’t your energy be best spent trying to help American consumers have access to foods with unambiguous ingredients?
Regarding saturated fat, you’re upset that certain KIND bars exceed 1 g of saturated fat per 40 g RACC while claiming to be a “good source of fiber”. Frito-Lay can use genetically modified canola oil and call it good, but KIND can’t capture the healthy fat contained in a nut without retribution.
Who’s to say natural saturated fat is unhealthy anyway? As I recall, you were telling us for years that trans fats were perfectly safe, despite growing evidence to the contrary. You totally reversed your stance in 2013 saying reduction in the amount of trans fat in the American diet could help save lives.
Confusion over the health benefits of fat emerged when we started creating them in factories. Up until that time we understood that fat appearing in nuts and seeds offered some important health benefits. I’m not sure it’s helping any of us to spend time counting grams of saturated fat when disease rates continue to escalate.
The issue, however, seems to be KIND’s health claims. I get it. In my mind health claims ought to appear solely on foods occurring in nature. Perhaps something like this:
However, the real world dictates that some foods will come in packages. Monitoring health claims makes sense. But allowing companies to plaster the word natural all over their label while excoriating KIND for its use of the term antioxidants because of a missing street address* raises serious questions.
My hope is that the FDA will direct its attention to helping turn the tide in this country away from artificial, genetically-altered, pesticide-ridden foods to real foods that nourish and sustain its citizens.
*Exact wording of the street address issue:
“Specifically, the statement “Kind, LLC, P.O. Box 705 Midtown Station, NY, NY 10018” which is provided on the label does not include the street address and the street address of your business does not appear in a current city or telephone directory. FDA is unable to determine the physical location of your firm using a city or telephone directory and the address listed on the label.”