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Tip of the Week: Status Update on Added Sugars Labeling for Packaged “Sugar” Products
Tip of the Week: Status Update on Added Sugars Labeling for Packaged “Sugar” Products

What's the status of labeling “added sugars” for products packaged as sugars?

In February of 2018, FDA provided a guidance document detailing what they viewed as a solution for the listing of added sugars in honey and maple syrup products. As discussed in our March 2018 blog article, FDA would allow these two single ingredient products to have a symbol placed beside the percent daily value for the added sugars and then include a footnote just outside of the nutrition panel that clarifies the added sugars are naturally occurring in the product.

The honey and maple syrup industries did not feel this went far enough to address the issue. Pure honey and maple syrup do not have sugars added to them and manufacturers of these foods do not want any misunderstanding about whether these foods have added ingredients. Others in the sugars industry feel the whole premise of declaring added sugars on packages containing a single sugar ingredient confusing. 

The sugars industry received congressional support on the issue. The 2019 Appropriations Act, introduced in June 2018, was approved by the House and then amended and approved by the Senate. The purpose of one of the amendments, sponsored by Sen. Susan M. Collins of Maine (a state that produces a large amount of maple syrup), was to “prohibit the use of funds to enforce certain requirements with respect to added sugars in the rules issued by the Food and Drug Administration on nutrition labels”. Here is the actual wording that is currently included in the Act:

SEC. 768.

None of the funds made available by this Act shall be used to enforce the requirement in the final rule entitled “Food Labeling: Revision of the Nutrition and Supplement Facts Labels”, published in the Federal Register on May 27, 2016 (81 Fed. Reg. 33742), that any single ingredient sugar, honey, agave, or syrup (including maple syrup) that is packaged and offered for sale as a single ingredient food bear the declaration “Includes ‘X’g Added Sugars”.

Due to the Senate adding amendments, there are differences that still need to be resolved before it can be finalized and presented to the President for signing.

FDA took to heart the comments that came in about the guidance document. In September 2018, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb released a statement that verified there may be a better approach for providing clarity for these types of products. Gottlieb indicated that the FDA is in the process of drafting their final guidance that will “provide a path forward for pure, single-ingredient ’packaged as such’ products that does not involve the standard ’added sugars’ declaration on the Nutrition Facts label”. However, in the next sentence he stated that the FDA is “not considering changes to the required percent daily value for these products, including for products like pure honey and maple syrup”. These two statements taken together leave manufacturers wondering exactly how the guidance will be changed. Gottlieb further stated, “We believe that such a solution strikes the balance of addressing producer concerns that their products could be perceived as being economically adulterated while still informing consumers on how these products contribute to their daily added sugar intake”.

The final guidance is due out in early 2019 which FDA feels is well in advance of the January 2020 compliance date for larger firms to update their Nutrition Facts labels. However, this new guidance is likely to affect the entire sugar manufacturing industry and they will be forced to quickly change their labels in a short time frame.

If you have additional questions about the added sugars declaration or any other aspects of Food Labeling, reach out to the AIB Labeling Experts at labelorder@aibonline.org.








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