In February, the FDA introduced proposed regulations for the revision of the Nutrition and Supplement Facts labels. After having ample time to consider all comments judiciously, the FDA will release a final set of regulations.
One of the proposed changes is to include an “Added Sugars” listing to the mandatory label information, intended to help consumers discern how much sugar is naturally occurring in their products and how much has been added. Added sugars provide calories but no additional nutrient value. Often referred to as “empty calories," they are hailed as one of the largest contributors toward unwanted weight gain and can be found most notably within carbonated beverages, sports drinks, pastries, ice cream and candy. Including added sugars on package labels would make it easier for consumers to compare the content within different brands of similar products, and to limit their intake of added sugars if desired.
The FDA suggests the following definition of added sugars:
“Sugars that are either added during the processing of foods, or are packaged as such, and include sugars, syrups, naturally occurring sugars that are isolated from a whole food and concentrated so that sugar is the primary component (e.g., fruit juice concentrates), and other calorie sweeteners.”
As added sugars are generally something that should be consumed in moderation, highlighting them on nutrition labels may motivate food manufacturers to reconsider the contents of existing products. The FDA estimates that approximately 110,000 grocery store items significantly contribute to added sugars in the diet, and that 5-6 percent of those would be voluntarily reformulated if the change occurred.
On the label, “Added Sugars” would be located beneath “Sugar” as an indented subcategory. Expressed to the nearest gram, customers would be allowed an accurate estimate of their intake. Added Sugar amounts less than 0.5 gram per serving, however, could still be expressed as zero. Manufacturers would be expected to keep records to verify the declared amount of added sugars on the label.