The Food & Fiber Letter
August 7, 2014
Copyright 2014 Gale Group, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Food companies told Food and Drug Administration (FDA) officials during a recent hearing that a proposal to separately report natural and added sugars on food labels is not based on science and could actually confuse consumers who want to reduce their intakes of sugar.
Organizations like the American Frozen Food Institute and the Sugar Association argue there isn't enough scientific evidence suggesting added sugars directly contribute to health conditions like obesity and heart disease. “We have serious concerns about the use of selective dietary guidance, from one edition of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, as the sole basis for proposing sweeping labeling regulation changes,” Sugar Association President Andrew Briscoe said in prepared testimony at an FDA public hearing.
“General dietary guidance to increase or reduce certain foods has merit for the general population, however there is not a preponderance of science to support the “added sugars” recommendation, as required by law,” Briscoe added.
Nutrition experts and health officials disagree.
For example, Frank Hu, professor of nutrition and epidemiology at Harvard School of Public Health, said it’s important that Americans reduce added sugar intake because they replace nutrient-dense foods and beverages. He noted the average American consumes 22 teaspoons of added sugar a day, which amounts to an extra 350 calories.
Other industry groups, such as the Food Marketing Institute and Grocery Manufacturers Association, said the added sugars line would be impossible to comply with, given that some sugar occurs naturally, and would add burdensome record-keeping requirements.
In addition to the proposal to list added sugars separately, the FDA also is proposing new labeling requirements that would:
- Redefine the amount of a food that is considered a "single serving" to reflect how much people actually eat in one sitting based on food consumption data.
- Give greater prominence to the calories included in a single serving.
- List Potassium and Vitamin D.
In its published proposal, the FDA says the changes would affect roughly 60,000 manufacturers and estimates the initial labeling cost associated with complying with the proposed rules would range between $1 million and $3 million.
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