The Food and Drug Administration announced Wednesday that certain canned or frozen fruits and vegetables are just as good as fresh produce, letting a list from canned beets to frozen green beans be advertised as “healthy.”
In fact, the FDA acknowledged that some frozen or canned vegetables may even be more nutritious than fresh ones because vitamins can leach out of fresh produce. One study said fresh green beans left for three days in the store and three days in a home refrigerator retained only 36 percent of their Vitamin C, while frozen green beans had twice as much.
The industry hailed the decision as an aid to consumers trying to fit into their daily diets the minimum five servings of fruits and vegetables required for good health.
But the FDA rule affects only a small portion of the processed foods industry. Fruits and vegetables covered in high-fat sauces, sugary syrups or added salt don’t qualify.
FDA regulations on food health claims say a food can be labeled “healthy” only if it is low in fat, meets certain sodium and cholesterol limits and contains at least 10 percent of the daily requirement of either Vitamin A, Vitamin C, calcium, iron, protein or fiber.