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FDA asks Kind snack bars to modify labels

The Kind Fruit & Nut Almond & Apricot

The Kind Fruit & Nut Almond & Apricot bar is among the bars with labeling that is being disputed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Credit: Kind LLC

Snackers looking for a healthy bite on the go may need to read nutrition information on Kind bars a little more closely.

At least four of Kind LLC's self-proclaimed healthy bars are in violation of "healthy" labeling requirements, according to the Food and Drug Administration, which has sent a warning letter to the company.

"Your products do not meet the requirements for use of the nutrient content claim 'healthy' on a food label," William Correll, director of the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, said in the letter, dated March 17 and released publicly on Tuesday, April 14.

"You should take prompt action to correct the violations." The U.S. regulatory agency said the Kind bars -- Fruit & Nut Almond & Apricot, Fruit & Nut Almond & Coconut, Plus Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate + Protein and Fruit & Nut Dark Chocolate Cherry Cashew -- have too much saturated fat to be considered healthy. The FDA standard is less than 1 gram, while the dried fruit and almond bar contains 3.5 grams.

Closely held Kind said its fat levels may exceed the FDA's standard because its bars include nuts, which contain nutritious fats. The company has officially responded to the FDA since receiving the letter.

"Our team at Kind is fully committed to working alongside the FDA, and we're moving quickly to comply with its request," the company said in a statement. "We're also taking it upon ourselves to conduct a thorough review of all of our snack food labels and website information to ensure that they're compliant."

Kind has seen its sales surge in recent years as Americans have moved toward savory snacks and demanded better ingredients. Kind products are now in 150,000 retail stores in the United States. The company sold 458 million units in 2014, more than tripling over the last two years, according to Daniel Lubetzky, the company's chief executive.

Kind can't use the term "plus" to describe the Kind Plus Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate + Protein bar because it doesn't contain enough protein, Correll said.

The bars' labeling also can't include statements like "good source of fiber" or "no trans fats."

The FDA said it may order the snack bars removed from grocery store shelves or seek a court order if the company doesn't fix the labeling violations.

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