Kind comes under fire

by Eric Schroeder
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Four varieties  of Kind bars violate labeling rules, according to the F.D.A.

NEW YORK — The Food and Drug Administration has asked Kind L.L.C. to change the labeling on some of its products after a review by the F.D.A. determined that the New York-based snacks maker was in violation of “healthy” labeling rules.

In a March 17 warning letter addressed to Kind, the F.D.A. said at least four types of Kind bars were in violation of labeling rules. The bars that the F.D.A. reviewed were: almond and apricot; almond and coconut; peanut butter and dark chocolate + protein; and dark chocolate cherry cashew + antioxidants.

According to the F.D.A., a product only may feature the term “healthy” as an implied nutrient content claim on the label if, among other things, it is “low saturated fat” as defined in the federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (i.e., the food has a saturated fat content of 1 gram or less per reference amount customarily consumed (RACC) and no more than 15% of the calories are from saturated fat).

In its review, the F.D.A. found that Kind’s almond and apricot bar and peanut butter dark chocolate + protein bar both contained 3.5 grams of saturated fat per serving, while its almond and coconut bar contained 5 grams of saturated fat and its dark chocolate cherry cashew + antioxidant bar contained 2.5 grams.

The F.D.A. also took issue with the use of the term + (plus), which implies that the food contains at least 10% more of the reference daily intake (R.D.I.) or daily reference value (D.R.V.) for the nutrient per RACC consumed than an appropriate reference food. The agency noted in its warning letter that neither product label states the identity of the reference food and the percentage (or fraction) that the nutrient is greater relative to the R.D.I. or D.R.V. declared in immediate proximity to the most prominent such claim.

The F.D.A. said Kind must remove labels such as “anti-oxidant rich,” “good source of fiber,” and “no trans fats” from its products.

“It is your responsibility to ensure that your products comply with the Act and its implementing regulations,” William A. Correll, the director of the Center for Food Safety, wrote in the letter. “You should take prompt action to correct the violations. Failure to promptly correct the violations may result in regulatory action without further notice, including seizure and/or injunction.”

Kind responded to the F.D.A.’s charges in a post to its web site on April 14.

“The F.D.A. is requesting adjustments to the labeling language on four of our bars and our web site, and we’re working now to bring all items to compliance,” the company said. “Please know that there are no quality or safety issues relating to our snack foods or their ingredients. Kind snacks remain a safe and nutritious choice for our fans and their families.”

In working to come into compliance with the F.D.A.’s labeling rules, Kind pointed out that nuts are partly to blame for the violations.

“Nuts, key ingredients in many of our snacks and one of the things that make fans love our bars, contain nutritious fats that exceed the amount allowed under the F.D.A.’s standard,” the company said. “This is similar to other foods that do not meet the standard for use of the term healthy, but are generally considered to be good for you like avocados, salmon and eggs.”

Kind said it will keep its recipes the same even as it makes updates to its packaging and web site.
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