The US Food and Drug Administration is amending a regulation that authorises a health claim on the relationship between dietary saturated fat and cholesterol and risk of coronary heart disease – to expand the use of the claim to certain raw fruits and vegetables previously ineligible to make the claim.
The amendment follows a “citizen petition” submitted by the American Heart Association (AHA) in 2012, asking the FDA to amend the existing regulation.
The FDA said to make a claim regarding the relationship between dietary saturated fat and cholesterol and the risk of coronary heart disease, a food “must typically, among other requirements, contain a certain amount of vitamin A, vitamin C, iron, calcium, protein, or fibre and meet the definitions of a ‘low saturated fat’ or ‘low fat’ and ‘low cholesterol’ food”.
However, some fruits and vegetables had been ineligible to bear the claim “because they do not meet the health claim requirements for containing a minimum amount of certain nutrients and/or they do not meet the definition of a ‘low fat’ food”, the FDA said. These included grapes, plums, beets, and cucumbers, which the FDA said “do not contain the threshold levels” of vitamin A, vitamin C, iron, calcium, protein, or fibre and “avocados do not meet the requirement” for ‘low fat’.
The agency said it responded to the AHA’s petition by issuing an interim final rule to amend the regulation, effective from 16 December with a 75-day comment period, to allow raw fruits and vegetables to make a claim that they reduce the risk of coronary heart disease.
The FDA said it was “not amending the health claim requirements for frozen or canned vegetables at this time, but invites comment on the issue”.