In addition to asking FDA to allow eggs to be labeled as healthy, Pete & Gerry’s also asks in a Citizen Petition filed April 19 that the agency extend to eggs previously announced enforcement discretion that allows some foods not covered under the current regulations to make healthy claims.
The enforcement discretion, which was announced in 2016, allows some higher fat foods to make healthy claims as long as the fats are mostly mono- or polyunsaturated fats, or so-called healthy fats. It also requires that the food is a good or excellent source of vitamins A or C, iron, calcium, protein, dietary fiber, potassium or vitamin D. This decision came after KIND Snacks filed a similar Citizen Petition with FDA urging it to update ‘outdated’ regulations that restrict the use of ‘healthy’ claims.
In Pete & Gerry’s petition, the company argues that eggs meet both of these requirements. It explains that while eggs are high in fat, they mostly contain the now allowable mono- and polysaturated fat. They also argue that eggs meet the nutrient density requirement under the enforcement discretion as they are a good source of protein, and include choline and vitamin D along with several other micronutrients, including calcium, iron and potassium.
Despite checking these boxes, Pete & Gerry’s says eggs are still prohibited from making healthy claims because they are high in cholesterol, which FDA does not address in the enforcement discretion.
Pete and Gerry’s argues that this is an oversight that should be corrected because while dietary cholesterol was listed in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans for years as a nutrient of concern that should be limited, it is no longer.
Based on new research, the most recent Dietary Guidelines issued in 2015 dropped the longstanding limit of 300 mg of dietary cholesterol per day and removed it from the list of nutrients of concern – ostensibly clearing the way for Americans to eat more eggs. In fact, the guidance even advocates for consumption of eggs as a good source of protein and some shortfall nutrients, Pete & Gerry’s points out in the petition.
“However,” Pete & Gerry’s notes in the petition, “the agency has failed to recognized the current science showing that dietary cholesterol is no longer a concern and that eggs fit in a healthy dietary pattern, despite their fat, saturated fat and cholesterol content.”
Given these developments and shortcomings, Pete & Gerry’s argues in the petition the FDA’s current stance on the use of healthy by eggs “is inconsistent with modern science and should be updated to allow a health claim for eggs.”
Many of the arguments made in Pete & Gerry’s petition reflect those made by the United Egg Producers in comments submitted to FDA as part of the agency’s review of ‘healthy’ claims.
By reiterating these arguments, Pete & Gerry’s says in a release that it hopes the petition “will help fast-track the FDA on the issue of new labeling regulations on eggs and other nutrient-dense foods.”
While it waits, the company is launching an educational social media campaign to promote #EggsAreHealthy. A microsite, eggsarehealthy.com, also reinforces for consumers the inconsistencies the company sees in how FDA currently applies ‘healthy’ as a claim and lists reasons why consumers should choose eggs. The company also has tapped celebrity nutritionist Keri Glassman to help promote egg consumption.