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USDA - Expanded Use of the Term 'Healthy'

March 23, 2020

The USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced on March 19, 2020, that it will allow establishments to use the implied nutrient content claim “healthy” on their labels which: (1) are not low in total fat, but have a fat profile makeup of predominantly mono and polyunsaturated fats; or (2) contain at least ten percent of the Daily Value (DV) per reference amount customarily consumed (RACC) of potassium or vitamin D.

The notice was published to clarify confusion among manufacturers about the “healthy” label claim and to maintain consistent requirements for food labels by allowing the same uses of the claim “healthy” for meat and poultry products as are currently allowed for food products under the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA’s) jurisdiction. The USDA FSIS will review proposed labels referencing FDA’s “healthy” guidelines. The notice states that incoming label submissions containing “healthy” label claims require correction. Moving forward, if a USDA-regulated company wants to use a “healthy” claim using FDA's recommendations, it needs to submit at least one label sketch to the USDA labeling team for approval.

For corporations, a parent company only needs to submit one label application for a product produced in multiple establishments that are owned by the corporation. Subsequent similar labels for other products that use FDA’s “healthy” claim can be generically approved. Submitting one label and receiving approval helps ensure that the rest of the labels are in compliance with FDA and FSIS regulations.

The USDA is soliciting comments until May 18, 2020.

For more information, please contact the professional(s) listed below, or your regular Crowell & Moring contact.

John Fuson
Partner – Washington, D.C.
Phone: +1.202.624.2910

Senior Law Clerk John Arszulowicz also contributed to this alert.