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Some Kind bars must drop 'healthy' label, FDA warns

The FDA sent Kind bar's makers a warning letter that some of its products don't qualify to call themselves 'healthy,' and other labeling concerns.
/ Source: TODAY

Some Kind bars aren't as nice for your body as the company claims, the government's top food regulator says.

Kind must stop calling at least four of its bars 'healthy,' the FDA told the company in a warning letter this week. The bars at issue are:

  • Kind Fruit & Nut Almond & Apricot, which has 3.5 g of saturated fat
  • Kind Fruit & Nut Almond & Coconut, with 5 g of saturated fat
  • Kind Plus Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate + Protein, with 3.5 g of saturated fat, and
  • Kind Fruit & Nut Dark Chocolate Cherry Cashew + Antioxidants, with contains 2.5 g of saturated fat

The bars have anywhere from 2.5 to 3.5g of saturated fat per 40g. The government's standard 1g or less for a product to be able to slap 'healthy' on the label.

The FDA also called out Kind, LLC for other mislabeling issues.

In response, the company said that it was the nuts inside the bars that made it fall outside the government's guidelines.

"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 FDA’s standard,” said Kind spokesman Joe Cohen. "There is an overwhelming body of scientific evidence supporting that nuts are wholesome and nutritious." Indeed, some studies have linked nut consumption to a longer life with lower rates of cardiovascular disease.

NYU nutritionist Marion Nestle said the problem is not the nuts, which she says the FDA does not question are a "fine food," but that some of the things that bind those nuts together in the Kind bars make them less healthy than their packaging purports.

"Kind bars are candy bars making health claims, and thereby marketing them as healthy snacks," said Nestle.

She is even skeptical about the bars that don't have chocolate. A honey smoked almond bar, for instance, doesn't have chocolate, as some of their bars do, but does contain honey and molasses, she said.

"Honey is added sugar. These are candy bars," said Nestle.

Kind's Cohen disagrees. "Our bars contain whole nuts whole grains whole seeds and contain nutrients that you can't find in candy bars," he said.

A Kind "Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate + Protein" bar contains 200 calories, 3.5g of saturated fat and 9g of sugar. In comparison, a Snickers has 250 calories, 4.5g of saturated fat, and 27g of sugar.