The FDS issued a warning to Kind LLC for a violation of "healthy" labeling rules of some of its bars. Those bars' saturated fat content exceeds the limits for food claiming to be healthy.

A slap on the hand

Making a claim can be tricky and invite scrutiny from the “powers that be,” namely the Food & Drug Administration (FDA). In March, Kind LLC, New York City, was at the receiving end of that scrutiny when FDA issued a warning letter to the company saying some of its products were in violation of “healthy” labeling rules.

Until this time, Kind has been held up as a good example of effective packaging between its use of clear space to show off the product’s visible ingredients and its use of claims.

“When we talk about a natural, unprocessed snack, Kind fits the bill,” said Jared Koerten, senior analyst, Euromonitor International, who gave a “state of the snacking industry” address at the 2015 SNAXPO conference. “Hold the bar, and you can see exactly what’s in it before you buy it,” he said, describing the brand’s clear packaging. “There’s also a litany of health claims that go along the side of the package that wraps around to the other side.” Kind is now under fire for some of those claims.

For a product to use the term healthy, it must comply with certain nutrition standards, including having low saturated fat as defined in the federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. Kind’s Almond and Apricot bar and Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate + Protein bar contain 3.5 g saturated fat per serving, its Almond and Coconut bar contains 5 g saturated fat, and its Dark Chocolate Cherry Cashew + Antioxidant bar contains 2.5 g. The acceptable amount for a healthy claim is 1 g or less per serving. FDA also challenged the company’s use of the + (plus), which implies that the bar contains at least 10% more of the reference daily intake or daily reference value for the nutrient.

“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.”

To be in compliance with FDA standards, Kind is being asked to remove the labels “anti-oxidant rich,” “good source of fiber,” and no trans fats” from its products. The company said it is working with FDA to bring all products to compliance, but pointed out that nuts, a commonly considered healthy ingredient, are to blame for the saturated fat levels. Kind expressed that it will maintain its formulations as it updates packaging and the website.