Q&A: How KIND is redefining healthy

How KIND is redefining healthy; Stephanie Perruzza
Perruzza

Snack brand KIND has gained fans with its nut bars and other snacks that have turned the brand into a major player in the snack, nutrition and performance bars market, which grew 26% from 2010 to 2015, according to market research firm Mintel.  The brand made headlines last year when the Food and Drug Administration asked the brand to remove the term "healthy" from its packaging, saying that some of its products exceeded the recommended amount of fat per serving. The large amount of nuts in KIND bars was what pushed the products over the FDA's limit, and KIND replied to the FDA with a petition asking that it revisit how it defines healthy food. As a result, the FDA last month opened a public comment period on the definition of healthy.

"We’re encouraged by the speed of progress within the FDA and see this as a notable milestone in our country’s journey to redefine healthy. The FDA has posed a number of important questions for comment, and in our continued efforts to advocate for public health, we’re actively convening experts to help provide answers grounded in current nutrition science," CEO and founder Daniel Lubetzky said of the FDA's move to reevaluate the 20-year old regulation.

We interviewed the company's Stephanie Perruzza on what healthy means at KIND and how that definition is driving decisions, such as the recent move to disclose added sugars on product labels ahead of the FDA's nutrition facts deadline.

KIND's petition to the FDA last year regarding its use of the term "healthy" prompted the administration to review its definition of the term. What does "healthy" mean at KIND, and how does this definition drive the development of new products?

For us, healthy has always been more than just a word on a label -- it’s a commitment to making wholesome snacks that consumers can feel good about putting in their body. We were very pleased with the most recent development last week when the FDA announced an open comment period for individuals to provide feedback on the updated definition of healthy. This much-anticipated announcement was spurred, in large part, by KIND’s Citizen Petition and is a positive, encouraging step forward in our country’s journey to redefine healthy.  

Why did KIND decide to disclose added sugars on its labels two years ahead of the FDA's new nutrition facts deadline?

We’re excited to be the first national snack brand to publish the added sugar content for our entire portfolio. We decided to share this information now to show our support of the updated label and help promote the importance of providing consumers with clear nutrition information to help them make informed food choices.

As the deadline approaches, many companies are ramping up sugar reduction efforts. What are the challenges of reducing sugar in packaged foods and how is KIND reducing added sugar in its products?

We’ve maintained a longstanding commitment to use as little sugar as possible without adding artificial sweeteners or sugar alcohols. In late 2015, we announced a reduction of added sugar in seven of our Fruit & Nut bars by 14-56% compared to prior recipes. We’re also working to reduce the added sugar in some of our other Fruit & Nut and PLUS bars and have recently launched a new line, Pressed by KIND, which contains no added sugars.

The FDA's move to include added sugar on nutrition labels comes amid rising consumer demand for healthier packaged foods and transparency from food manufacturers. What else is KIND doing to improve the nutrition of its offerings and educate consumers about what is in each package?

At KIND, we’re committed to making snacks that are both healthy and tasty and the first ingredient in all of our snacks will always be a nutrient-dense, whole ingredient like nuts, whole grains or fruit. Alongside our sugar transparency announcement, we publicly shared, for the first time, our KIND Promises -- the overarching health and nutrition principles that guide the creation of our snacks to provide our fans with more visibility.

Stephanie Perruzza, M.S., R.D., is a New York-based dietitian working as a health and wellness communications specialist for KIND Snacks where she focuses on health and wellness influencer communications relations and outreach, with a specific concentration in various dietitian practice groups.

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