Some KIND Bars Not So Healthy, FDA Says

KIND says it's fruit and nut bars are "pretty much the nirvana of healthful tastiness" -- but it seems not all of their bars are healthy enough so to bear a "healthy" label, according to the Food and Drug Administration.

The FDA sent KIND Healthy Snacks a warning letter, stating that several of its bars -- Kind Fruit and Nut Almond and Apricot, Kind Fruit and Nut Almond and Coconut, Kind Plus Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate + Protein, and Kind Plus Dark Chocolate Cherry Cashew + Antioxidants -- bear labels that don't comply with FDA standards.

The FDA said that the company makes claims the bars are "healthy" "no trans fats" and "plus" without meeting the requirements to do so.

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"However, none of your products listed above meet the requirements for use of the nutrient content claim 'healthy' that are set forth in [federal regulations.]," William Correll,, director of the FDA's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition wrote in the warning letter dated March 17.

To claim that something is healthy, a food must have no more than 1 gram of saturated fat per serving and contain no more than 15 percent of its calories from saturated fat, the letter says.

The KIND bars contain between 2.5 and 5 times this amount of saturated fat per bar, according to the letter. The FDA also said KIND had other labeling problems, including the use of the word "plus," and said the 7-page letter was not meant to be an "all-inclusive list of violations."

KIND says it is working with the FDA and will change its labels, but not the recipes, said KIND spokesman Joe Cohen.

He said nuts were to blame for the labeling problem.

"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," Cohen said. "There is an overwhelming body of scientific evidence supporting that nuts are wholesome and nutritious. This is similar to other foods that do not meet the standard for use of the term healthy, but are generally considered to be good for you like avocados, salmon and eggs. Our team at KIND is fully committed to working alongside the FDA, and we’re moving quickly to comply with its request."

KIND violated the FDA's longstanding labeling rules, which are intended to protect consumers, said Toni Marinucci, a registered dietitian and nutritionist at Staten Island University Hospital.

"If it says 'healthy,' a person doesn't necessarily read the whole nutrition facts label and is just quick to grab," Marinucci said.

Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum, a preventive cardiologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, said the warning letters bring attention to our naivete regarding the meaning of healthy eating. She said she's had to tell patients the bars aren't as healthy as they think.

Although the KIND bars aren't as unhealthy for people as candy bars, she said candy bars can make the case that they have nuts, too.

"When we eat a candy bar, we know it's bad," she said. "In this situation, we believe we're doing something that's good for us and it's not good."

Heidi Silver, a registered dietitian and nutrition scientist at Vanderbilt University Center for Human Nutrition told ABC News the warning letter does not mean the bars are "particularly unhealthy." She said she would decide to add them into a diet or take them away on a case-by-case basis by budgeting and balancing other foods. If someone really likes them, she said she would find a way to make it work.

The FDA did not comment beyond the initial warning letter, but the agency has issued a dozen warning letters to various food, drug and medical device companies so far this year, according to its website.

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