An Update on Added Sugars Labeling

Originally Published: October 29, 2020
Last Updated: February 4, 2021
White sugar on the table with the word "sugar" carved in it.

THE FOOD & DRUG ADMINISTRATION (FDA) published the Small Entity Compliance Guide titled “Revision of the Nutrition and Supplement Facts Labels” in February. Its purpose is to help industry apply the finalized FDA rulings on what foods and ingredients meet their “Added Sugars” definition for the Nutrition Facts label, said Lauren Swann, MS, RD, LDN, CEO and President, Concept Nutrition, Inc., in her presentation, “Update on Added Sugar Labeling: News, Nuances and Needs,” recorded for the 2020 Sweetener Systems Conference. It included summaries of the June 2019 provisions established specifically for honey, maple syrup, other single-ingredient sugars and syrups, and certain cranberry products.

FDA’s April 2019 “Allulose Draft Guidance for Industry: The Declaration of Allulose and Calories from Allulose on Nutrition and Supplement Facts Labels” is insightful, relative to the more recent “Added Sugars” requirement and agency considerations for novel and unique entries in the sweeteners market, Swann noted. FDA is exercising enforcement discretion—pending possible future rulemaking to amend regulations regarding the definition of “Total Sugars” as part of its update on “Added Sugars” labeling. The agency considered data and information provided in citizen petitions and other submissions along with recognizing that although chemical structure has traditionally determined “Total Sugars,” food technology advances have led to introduction of novel sugars.

For example, allulose is not metabolized by the human body, so it does not contribute four calories per gram to the diet. FDA also considered an association with dental caries, effects on blood sugar, insulin and caloric contribution. It concluded allulose must be included in the amount of “Total Carbohydrate” declared on Nutrition and Supplement Facts labels.

“However, because the majority is excreted intact in the urine, and it is poorly fermented in the gut—its caloric contribution is very low, at no more than 0.4 calories per gram—FDA concludes that allulose should not be included in the Nutrition Facts ‘Added Sugars’ or its associated ‘Percent Daily Value’ declaration,” explained Swann.

The FDA re-opened the comment period for a 2005 proposed rule for consideration regarding establishment, revision or elimination of a food standard of identity. [Comments had to be submitted by July 20, 2020.]

Over 280 current food standards of identity are requirements that define or distinguish significantly relevant food properties, including the content and production of sugars, sweeteners, syrups and related ingredients, such as fruit jams, jellies, preserves and juices.

With more new food development and updates in nutrition, FDA is revisiting standards of identity that also document acceptable labeled common or usual labeled name descriptions. This is to meet consumer expectations and avoid deceptive, misleading practices in the required disclosure of mandatory and optional ingredients, or the minimum and maximum compositional levels or manufacturing process that influence the finished food and labeled ingredient declarations.

Food standards modernization strives to protect consumers against adulteration, while maintaining the basic nature, essential characteristics and nutritional integrity of foods. It is also intended to promote industry innovation and technological advances from manufacturers for production of an improved food supply in the interest of the public.

Standards can ultimately create a clear, simple, easy way for compliance enforcement. Proposed regulations for new or re- vised food standards address the importance of consistency with common or usual name regulations for related commodities or products. For ingredients, incorporation of current scientific nomenclature, as with other food standards, is key.
[NOTE: This passage was updated by Lauren Swann, June 2020.]

“Added Sugars Labeling: News, Nuances and Needs,” Lauren Swann, MS, RD, LDN, CEO, President, Concept Nutrition, Inc.

This presentation was given at the 2020 Sweetener Systems Conference. To download presentations from this event, go to:

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