Gum, bot­tled wa­ter, pizza bagels want ‘healthy’ la­bel

Star-Telegram (Sunday) - - Business - BY CAN­DICE CHOI

Pizza bagels, chew­ing gum and bot­tled wa­ter want to play a star­ring new role in our di­ets: Foods that can be called healthy.

The U.S. Food and Drug Ad­min­is­tra­tion is revamping its def­i­ni­tion of healthy to re­flect our chang­ing un­der­stand­ing of nu­tri­tion science. The push is fu­el­ing de­bate about eat­ing habits and what the new stan­dard should say.

Frozen food-mak­ers are seek­ing spe­cial rules for “mini meals,” cit­ing lit­tle pizza bagels and dumplings as ex­am­ples that might qual­ify. Chew­ing gum and bot­tled wa­ter com­pa­nies say they should no longer be shut out from us­ing the term just be­cause their prod­ucts don’t pro­vide nu­tri­ents.

Some say the word healthy is in­her­ently mis­lead­ing when ap­plied to a sin­gle prod­uct in­stead of an over­all diet.

“The prob­lem is that healthy is rel­a­tive,” said Bruce Y. Lee, a pro­fes­sor of in­ter­na­tional health at Johns Hop­kins. Sub­sist­ing on broc­coli alone, for in­stance, wouldn’t be healthy.

The fed­eral stan­dards for use of the word “healthy” on la­bels was es­tab­lished in 1994 and set lim­its on to­tal fat and choles­terol.

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