Proposed added sugar label seen confusing consumers

by Josh Sosland
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IFIC warns consumer understanding of sugar intake will diminish.

WASHINGTON — The percentage of consumers unable to correctly identify how much sugar is in a packaged food product will quintuple with a proposed update to the Food and Drug Administration Nutrition Facts Panel, according to International Food Information Council data.

IFIC highlighted its findings in the wake of a recent F.D.A. decision to include a per cent of daily value with its proposed addition of an added sugars line on the nutrition panel. IFIC said in highlighting added sugars, the ability of consumers to identify total sugar intake will diminish.

Kris Sollid, R.D., IFIC director of nutrients communications

“A key question to answer in our consumer research is whether or not an “Added Sugars” declaration on the NFP provides clear information that is well understood by consumers that would be used appropriately in efforts to make informed dietary choices,” said co-author Kris Sollid, R.D., IFIC director of nutrients communications. “The short (and sweet) answer … providing added sugars information significantly decreases the ability for consumers to accurately identify the total amount of sugars in a product.”

According to IFIC, 8% of respondents to a survey conducted by the group were unable to correctly identify the total amount of sugars in a product on the current Nutrition Facts Panel. This figure jumped to 45% when both sugars and added sugars are added.

IFIC said its findings were affirmed by the F.D.A. data. In addition, IFIC said the agency said the F.D.A. research found consumers were better able to identify grams of sugar per serving using the older label (81% versus 65%) and grams of sugar per container (54% versus 36%).

The proposal to add percentage of daily value is a supplement to a March 2014 proposal to change the Nutrition Facts Panel to include added sugars.

“The F.D.A. has a responsibility to give consumers the information they need to make informed dietary decisions for themselves and their families,” said Susan Mayne, Ph.D., director of the F.D.A.’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. “For the past decade, consumers have been advised to reduce their intake of added sugars, and the proposed per cent daily value for added sugars on the Nutrition Facts label is intended to help consumers follow that advice.”
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