F.D.A. updates added sugars proposal

by Jay Sjerven
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The agency seeks a daily value for added sugars on the Nutrition Facts label.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on July 24 proposed including a per cent daily value (%DV) declaration for added sugars on the Nutrition Facts Panel of packaged foods. A per cent daily value notation indicates how much a nutrient in a serving of food contributes to a daily diet. The F.D.A.’s proposed per cent daily value for added sugars was based on a recommendation that the daily intake of calories from added sugars not exceed 10% of total calories.

“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,” said Susan Mayne, Ph.D., director of the F.D.A.’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition.

The new proposed rule is a supplement to the F.D.A.’s March 3, 2014, proposed rule on updating the Nutrition Facts label.

The F.D.A. in the proposed supplement as published in the July 27 Federal Register said new information emerging from the “Scientific Report of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee” led it to reconsider its thinking for not establishing a daily reference value (D.R.V.) or requiring a %DV for added sugars in its March 2014 proposed rule.

“Specifically, the 2015 D.G.A.C. report provided evidence suggesting a strong association between a dietary pattern of intake characterized, in part, by a reduced intake of added sugars and a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease,” the F.D.A. said. “The evidence also suggested an applicable reference amount for added sugars, i.e., limiting added sugars intake to no more than 10% of total daily caloric intake.”

In its proposed rule supplement, the F.D.A. said it would establish D.R.V.s for added sugars at 50 grams for both adults and children four years of age and older and at 25 grams for children of one to three years of age. The D.R.V. levels underlie the proposal that added sugars comprise no more than 10% of caloric intake.

The F.D.A. is seeking public comment on the proposed rule supplement for 75 days beginning July 27.

The Grocery Manufacturers Association took issue with how the F.D.A. determined a per cent daily value for added sugars.

“G.M.A. has provided extensive comments on F.D.A.’s earlier proposals and will be reviewing the supplemental proposal and providing detailed comments,” the G.M.A. said. “However, we did note that they are basing their proposed DV for added sugars on the D.G.A.C. recommendations rather than on Institute of Medicine (I.O.M.) recommendations. This raises serious concerns because the D.G.A.C. did not use the rigorous approach used by the I.O.M. when developing recommended nutrient intakes, a point we made in formal comments on the D.G.A.C. advisory committee report, but instead relied on food pattern modeling and existing reports.”

The American Bakers Association said it was reviewing the new F.D.A. added sugar per cent daily value labeling proposal and considering how to respond to the agency.

The A.B.A. pointed out in its original response to the F.D.A.’s March 2014 proposed rule, it opposed the added sugar provisions noting the body does not distinguish and process added sugar any differently from natural sugar. Also, the A.B.A. pointed out bakery products have the added complexity of fermentation, which utilizes sugar as part of the baking process.

“For the F.D.A. to leap to the conclusion that added sugar is the cause of obesity is a stretch at best — the science the D.G.A.C. pointed to is not of the strongest level,” the A.B.A. asserted. “Only 27% of the science used in the D.G.A.C. was from the Nutrition Evidence Library.”

The National Confectioners Association said the F.D.A.’s plans to place percentage daily values for added sugars on food labels were unnecessary and may confuse consumers. Christopher Gindlesperger, the N.C.A.’s vice-president of public affairs and communication, said while the candy association does not oppose labeling added sugars, it has reservations about including a per cent daily value.

“We do not support a daily value for added sugars because the science shows that the body does not distinguish added from intrinsic sugars — and any new labeling requirements should not create unnecessary confusion for the consumers,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Center for Science in the Public Interest lauded the F.D.A. proposed rule supplement as “a major public health victory that would greatly benefit consumers.” The C.S.P.I. added it will continue to urge the F.D.A. to require that the amount of sugar be expressed in teaspoons as well as grams to make the nutrition label more understandable for consumers.

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