The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a recommendation towards the food industry that the quantity of added sugar and its percent daily value be listed on all labels of nutritional products, after years of heated debate between health experts and food corporations.
This addition is meant not only to inform consumers about the amount of sugar used in their preferred foods, but also to make them aware about how much it consists out of the recommended daily sugar limit. Medical experts recommend that the daily limit should never surpass 50 grams of added sugars, or 10 percent of daily calories.
The proposed listing refers only to the amount of added sugar and not that of natural sugars found in fruits and generally unmodified sweet products. Basically, it refers to sweeteners added during production to enhance flavors of certain products.
The FDA release cites scientific evidence provided by its 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) to support the recommendation and its usefulness for consumers, as well as the proposed daily limit. Currently, nutritional product labels are required to list percent daily values for cholesterol, sodium, saturated fat, iron, calcium, carbohydrates, total fat and dietary fiber.
The FDA’s Center for Food Nutrition and Applied Nutrition Director, Susan Mayne, wrote a blog post explaining the reasoning behind the recommendation. She argues that nutrient needs are difficult to meet within the required calorie limit if the person has more than 10 per cent of daily calories coming in from sugar. Backing the proposed percentage daily value limit are recent studies on dietary patterns, which correlate low amount of sugar consumptions with a lower risk of suffering a cardiovascular condition.
“We know that consumers may need some help getting used to this new information. Coming to FDA from outside of government with a background in public health nutrition, I have a great appreciation for the need to educate people to use the information we provide to them. I look forward to working with the nutrition community in this effort”, she added.
Some major food companies have been battling the ruling for some time, and it’s not hard to guess at the reasons. Coca-Cola, for example, has 65 grams of added sugar contained in a 20 oz bottle, which would constitute 130% of the recommended limit, which could in turn drive to lower sales. On the other side, Mars has supported the recommendation as the company behind Snickers or M&M’s feels that it offers important information to the customer.
Image Source: LA Times