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Organic egg producer seeks FDA ‘healthy’ claim for eggs

Pete & Gerry’s Organic Eggs seeks to reclaim "healthy" status for eggs because of advances in nutritional science and unfounded fears about cholesterol.

Jacqui Fatka

May 1, 2018

3 Min Read
Cartons of eggs in grocery store egg case
George Doyle/Stockbyte/Thinkstock

Pete & Gerry’s Organic Eggs is petitioning the Food & Drug Administration to amend the definition of “healthy” to allow it to be used with eggs. Current regulations do not allow egg cartons to say they are “nutritious” or even “safe.” Additional things egg producers cannot say about their product include: “good for you,” “part of a healthy diet” or “healthful.”

In a citizens petition, Pete & Gerry’s is requesting that FDA modify the terms of its guidance document and initiate new rule-making to permit eggs to use the term “healthy.” Specifically, the petition asks FDA to initiate rule-making to allow a healthy claim for eggs and that FDA amend current guidance so the agency will exercise enforcement discretion for eggs that are labeled “healthy.”

“It is long overdue that eggs be restored to their proper place in Americans’ diets. It’s one of the best sources of natural, nutrient-dense protein you can find -- to say nothing of its convenience and flexibility as a food,” stated Keri Glassman, a registered dietician and founder of Nutritious Life who is helping the organic egg producer with the healthy claim petition.

In a blog post about the petition, Jesse Laflamme, chief executive farmer, noted that, with the advances in nutrition science and understanding (including recent dietary guidelines issued by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Health & Human Services encouraging egg consumption), they are hopeful that FDA will issue new guidance on eggs.

Related:FDA to redefine 'healthy' claim for food labeling

“That way, no one who might benefit from the health benefits of eggs will hesitate to eat them based solely on unfounded fears around dietary cholesterol. We fear that this may be deterring people from eating an inexpensive but extremely rich source of protein and essential nutrients,” Laflemme stated.

Under FDA’s current food labeling regulation, whether a food can be labeled “healthy” is based on specific nutrient levels in the food rather than its overall nutrition quality. The petition notes that in 2016, FDA announced that it had started a public process to redefine the “healthy” nutrient content claim for food labeling and issued a notice requesting input on the definition of healthy.

The petition points out that, in line with the 2015-20 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA), FDA decided that it would exercise enforcement discretion for foods that exceeded the recommended fat level, provided that the fat content was primarily unsaturated fat and was disclosed in the nutrition facts box. “FDA’s guidance did not consider its position regarding cholesterol limits despite the DGA’s position that dietary cholesterol no longer needs to be limited. As a result, even though eggs are specifically called out in the three model diets in the 2015-2020 DGA, they remain ineligible for the healthy claim,” the petition explains.

The petition notes that eggs are included in all three model diets outlined in the 2015-20 DGA, and eggs are recognized as a good source of high-quality protein, as well as one of the most affordable sources of protein. Eggs also have varying levels of 13 essential vitamins and minerals, including vitamin D and choline.

View the citizen petition here.

About the Author(s)

Jacqui Fatka

Policy editor, Farm Futures

Jacqui Fatka grew up on a diversified livestock and grain farm in southwest Iowa and graduated from Iowa State University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and mass communications, with a minor in agriculture education, in 2003. She’s been writing for agricultural audiences ever since. In college, she interned with Wallaces Farmer and cultivated her love of ag policy during an internship with the Iowa Pork Producers Association, working in Sen. Chuck Grassley’s Capitol Hill press office. In 2003, she started full time for Farm Progress companies’ state and regional publications as the e-content editor, and became Farm Futures’ policy editor in 2004. A few years later, she began covering grain and biofuels markets for the weekly newspaper Feedstuffs. As the current policy editor for Farm Progress, she covers the ongoing developments in ag policy, trade, regulations and court rulings. Fatka also serves as the interim executive secretary-treasurer for the North American Agricultural Journalists. She lives on a small acreage in central Ohio with her husband and three children.

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