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| 1 minute read

Is peanut butter "healthy"? Not under FDA's proposed rule.

Whether certain foods and beverages legitimately qualify as "healthy" has been the subject of contentious debate and recent focus from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). In September of last year, FDA published its proposed rule on this subject and invited public comments, which were due by February 16, 2023. As expected, input came in from individuals, and industry stakeholders such as trade associations and large food and beverage companies. 

Two groups, the United States Peanut Federation and the Cherry Marketing Insitute were critical of the proposed rule's focus on prohibiting foods with small amounts of added sugar from being called "healthy." According to the Peanut Federation, the small amount of added sugar that is added for palatability in many peanut butters would disqualify those products from carrying the "healthy" moniker, notwithstanding the fact that peanut butter is a good source of protein, healthy fats, and amino acids. Similarly, the Cherry Marketing Institute is concerned that the small amount of sugar that is added to tart cherries, also for palatability, would cause nutrient-rich dried tart cherries, and other tart and dried fruits from being considered "healthy" under the standard, despite the fact that the sugar content in these products would be less than comparable products where the sugar source is considered natural.

One of the focuses of FDA's proposed rule is on the limitation of sodium, saturated fat, and added sugars in the American diet. While that focus may generally seem appropriate, in certain instances -- like peanut butter and dried cherries -- it may not be. So, what do you think? Should FDA's proposed rule allow for peanut butter to be called "healthy"? 

Published in late September to coincide with the White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition and Health, the FDA's proposed rule​​ updates the criteria for ‘healthy’ nutrient content claims on food labels, and for the first time restricts the amount of added sugar firms can include in products bearing the claim


food and beverage, healthy, peanut butter, added sugar