Lawmakers Push for ‘Healthy’ Label on Cranberry Products

Photo courtesy Mary Ierardi.

HYANNIS – Lawmakers are pushing for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to keep products containing cranberries labeled as healthy foods.

With several cranberry bogs located on the Cape and Islands, U.S. Representative Bill Keating (D-MA) recently led the bipartisan group in its efforts to have the FDA change its new definition of a “healthy” food so cranberry products would be included. 

The FDA is proposing new criteria in order for companies to claim their food products are healthy on their packaging. One of the the suggested guidelines states a product can’t contain too many added sugars. 

The group of lawmakers noted that since fruits like cranberries and tart cherries have low intrinsic sugar content, sweetening is required for products to be palatable for most consumers.

“This would not only harm farmers who cultivate these fruits, but also American consumers who could be discouraged from consuming these nutrient-dense products,” the group’s letter said. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention note that consuming too many added sugars can lead to health problems like weight gain, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease.

The lawmakers said cranberries and tart cherries offer antioxidants, which have health benefits like potentially reducing risk factors associated with cardiovascular diseases and certain urinary tract infections (UTIs). 

Some companies that make juices with cranberry and tart cherries offer products without added sugars, which would potentially earn a “healthy” symbol from the FDA under the proposed changes. 

In addition to Keating’s leadership, the letter was also signed by Senators Elizabeth Warren (D) and Ed Markey (D) as well as other Massachusetts members of the U.S. House of Representatives.  

The comment period for the proposed FDA rule ends on February 16, 2023. 

Local growers said they expected a strong cranberry season this year despite drought conditions experienced in the state. 

By Brian Engles, NewsCenter

About Brian Engles

Brian Engles is a longtime local of the Cape. He studied Film & TV at Boston University and in addition to his role at Cape Cod Broadcasting Media, he also works as a music instructor and records original songs.
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