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Buyer Beware: What’s Really in That 'Healthy' Cereal?

Friday, May 5, 2017

Food labeled “healthy” should be nutritious, low in added sugar, and free of trans fat and other harmful ingredients, right? Not according to the Food and Drug Administration’s current labeling guidelines.

The rules for health claims on food products hasn’t been significantly updated since 1994, despite big advances in nutrition science.

The good news is that the FDA is looking at how to redefine the term. EWG comments urge the agency to reject “healthy” claims on labels for foods that contain a lot of added sugars and salts, or have unhealthy trans fats, such as those from partially hydrogenated vegetable oil.

In the meantime, EWG has tools to help you steer clear of misleading health claims. Our Food Scores database has nutrition facts, ingredients and processing ratings on more than 80,000 products, and our Dietary Guidelines can help you create a healthy and nutritious diet for yourself and your family. 

Take our quiz to find out which foods are currently allowed by the FDA to be branded as “healthy” and which are forbidden from using the claim.



It’s clear the FDA needs to modernize its criteria for “healthy.” When we look for “healthy” foods in a grocery store, we are looking for foods that nourish our bodies and are not known to have harmful effects.

If you agree it's time to change the rules, share this quiz with your friends. And join us in telling the FDA it's time to bring "healthy" into the 21st century.  


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