In opposing a proposed Food and Drug Administration rule requiring declaration of “added sugars” on the Nutrition Facts Panel, the American Bakers Association made its point with a simple example dealing with pie. Strawberries are intrinsically more sweet than rhubarb. So bakers add more sugar when baking a rhubarb pie than a strawberry pie. On the proposed nutrition label, the rhubarb pie would show much more added sugar, even though its overall nutritional profile is far better than the strawberry pie.

Bakers and other opponents of the proposal fault the F.D.A. for seeking to move ahead with the rule in the absence of strong scientific evidence that added sugars are more unhealthy than intrinsic sugar or that the public will understand and benefit from the added sugar line. In the event the F.D.A. moves forward, the bakers are urging changing the “Sugars” line on the Nutrition Facts Panel to “Total Sugars.”

In an interview with Milling & Baking News, Yanni Papanikolaou, who has conducted research on behalf of the grain-based foods industry, shed light on what often seems like the craziness of government moves aimed at improving the diet.

“Nutrition as a field is still very much in its infancy,” he said. “What we’ve learned over the last 40 to 50 years is remarkable. We still have so much to discover. It can be a very frustrating time.”

With the public clamoring for definitive answers to problems associated with eating and grain-based foods under attack, the industry must be vigilant.