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FDA Proposal to Put ‘Added Sugars’ in Nutrition Facts Panel Sparks Debate

Last week, legal analysts for OFW Law published a blog arguing that “Added Sugars” should not be included in the Food and Drug Administration’s revamp of the Nutrition Facts panel.

“The White House seems to be pushing FDA to require more, including the disclosure of ‘Added Sugars,’ which may not be necessary or even beneficial,” wrote Richard L. Frank and Bruce Silverglade. “The FDA announcement on ‘Added Sugars’ labeling filled the national news for days even though the agency had not conducted its research project to determine if the disclosure would be helpful to consumers.”

The post includes quotes from FDA sources who suggest there is a lack of evidence that added sugars directly contribute to obesity and heart disease and to weight gain more than any other calorie source.

Jim O’Hara, health promotion policy director with the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), responded to the post, stating that these “caveats” in FDA’s proposal are not determinative.

“Agencies regularly offer a review of evidence both supporting and opposing a proposed regulation,” he wrote.

In defense of the added sugars label, O’Hara cited the American Heart Association (AHA) recommendation that women and men consume no more than 25 grams and 37.5 grams per day from added sugars, respectively.

He also referenced World Health Organization guidelines that sugar intake be limited to 10 percent of total energy intake per day, and that 5 percent — including both added and natural sugars — would have an added health benefit.

“And, in fact, the U.S. 2010 Dietary Guidelines estimate that 16 percent of the total calories in the average American diet comes from added sugars, which it notes ‘often supply calories but few or no essential nutrients and no dietary fiber,’” O’Hara wrote.

Citing a lack of consumer research, Frank and Silverglade also wonder how the added sugars information would impact consumers: “Will this be another misguided attempt by the administration and only confuse consumers more? Will it provide any long-term benefits to Americans’ health?”

While the authors acknowledge that not all calories are the same, they suggest that just disclosing them in a more conspicuous manner on labels would be an improvement.

“This unprecedented mandate by FDA strays beyond the agency’s traditional legal authority and subjects food companies to additional costs that are ultimately passed on to consumers,” Frank and Silverglade wrote. “The White House should direct FDA to live up to the Administration’s purported commitment to evidence-based science and regulatory policy, and withdraw the proposed ‘Added Sugars’ labeling regulation.”

Debate on various aspects of the proposed Nutrition Label changes is expected to flare up later this week when FDA holds its public meeting on the proposed rules on Thursday.

© Food Safety News
  • Michael Bulger

    It might be helpful to point out that OFW Law are lobbyists representing the food industry.

  • Russell La Claire

    Per usual, the mouth pieces for the seller’s of the added sugar appear out of the woodwork, decrying how it might confuse the public. They sound a lot like the folks who don’t want GMO’s on the labeling. Poor, uneducated, stupid consumers just don’t have the know how to read a label and make a decision. And, don’t forget that nicotine is not harmful.

  • Barb3000

    Sugar does cause weight gain too. Everything a person buys except frozen vegies is loaded with fat, salt, sugar etc. There is a lot of the ingredients and chemicals that is added to food that is not listed or you have to have a chemists handbook to look up what is. I hope they are moving toward listing all ingredients and kick the lobbyists in the rear.

  • Jake

    For many years Bruce Silverglade was General Counsel for the Center for Science in the Public Interest. Evidently a leopard CAN change it spots – though I rarely agree with CSPI.