FDA issues warning letter to KIND, LLC., questions health value and branding of snack bars
KIND, LLC. recently became the target of some not-so-kind attention after the FDA issued a warning letter to the popular snack bar company regarding health claims made on its product packaging.
According to the FDA, the use of the word “healthy” on several flavors of KIND bars is inaccurate due to these bars’ failure to adhere to certain criteria. In order for a product to be branded as healthy, the FDA requires that it must contain no more than one gram of saturated fat and that no more than 15 percent of calories can come from saturated fat.
In the case of four KIND bar flavors in particular — Fruit & Nut Almond & Apricot, Fruit & Nut Almond & Coconut, KIND Plus Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate + Protein, and KIND Plus Dark Chocolate Cherry Cashew + Antioxidants — saturated fat content ranges from 2.5 and 5 grams.
The latter two bars are also being disputed over their use of the “+” symbol on their packaging. According to the FDA, the use of the symbol must reflect that a food is either fortified with nutrients or that it provides a percentage of certain minerals or vitamins that exceed average daily values. Because KIND Plus Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate + Protein, and KIND Plus Dark Chocolate Cherry Cashew + Antioxidants do neither of the two, the FDA has identified this as another issue tied into misbranding.
However, to many, these are dated standards that don’t necessarily take into account modern knowledge on health and nutritional sciences. In the case of KIND bars, it’s possible that a high percentage of saturated fat content may be from nuts, which we’ve come to learn are an extremely healthy snacking option when consumed in moderation.
Regardless, it is important to see that there is an organization seeking to maintain a high standard when it comes to the accuracy of health claims made on the foods that we consume. It is essential for strong branding to rely as much on honesty and accuracy as it does on public appeal, but the presence of an organization that can enforce those standards when a company fails to meet them is essential in maintaining consumer trust in a market that’s often difficult to navigate.
In the case of food companies, it is tempting to throw around words like “healthy” and “smart choice” due to the level of attention that these terms tend to bring to a brand. However, it’s important for consumers to know that when they see those words on foods, they can trust that they are backed up by reliable standards.
Do you think that the FDA’s standards are a bit dated and that they should be amended so that products like KIND bars fall under the category of “healthy,” or do you think the organization was right to deem the bars as misbranded? Share your thoughts below or tweet me @tamarahoumi