KIND Bars in Trouble with “Healthy” Snacks

Earlier this year in April, KIND bars was asked by the FDA to make changes to its labeling of four products. The 4 bars  in violation of the “healthy” labeling rules include: almond and apricot; almond and coconut; peanut butter and dark chocolate + protein; and dark chocolate cherry cashew + antioxidants. We read a few articles from Food Business News and Quartz on the issue and we will be sharing some of the key information in our post.


“According to the F.D.A., a product only may feature the term “healthy” as an implied nutrient content claim on the label if, among other things, it is “low saturated fat” as defined in the federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (i.e., the food has a saturated fat content of 1 gram or less per reference amount customarily consumed (RACC) and no more than 15% of the calories are from saturated fat).

In its review, the F.D.A. found that Kind’s almond and apricot bar and peanut butter dark chocolate + protein bar both contained 3.5 grams of saturated fat per serving, while its almond and coconut bar contained 5 grams of saturated fat and its dark chocolate cherry cashew + antioxidant bar contained 2.5 grams.”

The FDA also indicated in their letter that Kind must remove labels such as “anti-oxidant rich,” “good source of fiber,” and “no trans fats” from the four products. Using an ingredient like NutriFusion® would allow KIND to make claims like “anti-oxidant rich” because our products are made from all natural fruits and vegetables.

KIND’s Response

“The F.D.A. is requesting adjustments to the labeling language on four of our bars and our web site, and we’re workinwebsite bring all items to compliance,” the company said. “Please know that there are no quality or safety issues relating to our snack foods or their ingredients. Kind snacks remain a safe and nutritious choice for our fans and their families.”

In working to come into compliance with the F.D.A.’s labeling rules, Kind pointed out that nuts are partly to blame for the violations.

“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 F.D.A.’s standard,” the company said. “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.”

Kind said it will keep its recipes the same even as it makes updates to its packaging and web site.

Lawyers are Filing Lawsuits for Consumers

Quartz covered the story from the consumer’s perspective and it looks like the FDA letter is going to lead to a few lawsuits. Of course consumers are not pressing the issue, but lawyers are on their behalf.

“In California, three separate class action suits have been filed against the company, all within 10 days of the letter’s publication, all making the same basic argument: KIND’s misleading marketing deceives consumers into buying food that isn’t healthy, at least by FDA standards. Consumers would receive the value of their KIND purchases back if the lawsuits were ever to prevail.”

Why Does This Matter?

KIND is relatively small in the energy and nutrition category and a young player in the industry. Their products are not necessarily bad for you. They just do not meet the FDA standards for saturated fats. Saturated fats are still going through on-going research, so science is not completely settled. This was simply a slap on the wrist by the FDA, but it has caused a lot of harm for KIND. They now have to do extensive work in new packaging and website design as well as manage consumer complaints. All of this could have been avoided by using the right ingredients and the approved claims by the FDA.