Draft guidance from the FDA has been getting anything but a positive reaction from consumers and manufacturers. The U.S Food and Drug Administration has proposed that sugars in maple syrup, honey and cranberry juice products should also list “added sugars” on their nutrition facts labels. Even though the proposal came with an explanatory note, it was highly criticized on the FDA’s online comment portal.
Over 900 comments have been made against this proposal. It seems consumers believe there is no added sugar in these products because the products themselves are naturally sweet.
“I oppose labeling maple syrup with ‘added sugar.’. This label implies that something other than sap is used to make the syrup and is misleading. If the intent is to warn consumers about the syrup being a significant source of sugar in their diet, alternate phrasing should be considered,” stated an anonymous commenter.
In the draft guidance for the industry, the FDA explained that this was a required step because of the importance of meeting nutritional needs within the recommended calorie limit. There was also a stated concern about the association between cardiovascular disease and sugar-sweetened beverages and food.
“Excess consumption of added sugars makes it difficult to meet nutrient needs within the calorie limits generally needed to maintain a healthy weight and can lead to an increase in overall caloric intake.” the FDA said.
In opposition to that, industry groups also posted to the comment site, indicating that these products are naturally-occurring – needing nothing extra added – so they believed there was no reason to list added sugar on their labels.
With all the objections and opposers, the FDA acknowledged the response from the producers of these products. The producers of maple syrup, honey and cranberry products have convinced the FDA to allow the use of a “†”. This symbol would be placed after the percent daily value of added sugars on the products. It would represent information on the package, meaning the product counts towards added sugars but has no other sweeteners added. Producers of cranberry products would be using the symbol to tell consumers that sugars are added to the products to make it appetizing, but the total sugar is the same as other fruit products with no added sweeteners.
According to a Label Insight survey, 22 percent of consumers want to restrict their sugar intake. It was found that 57 percent of consumers reported low-sugar is an important deciding factor on what products they buy – this is up 55 percent from last year. Manufacturers have already been trying to reduce sugar in their beverage and foods in order to fall into line with these concerns.
It is still unclear whether or not the FDA will cut the honey, maple syrup and cranberry industry some slack. However, the comments against the proposal might be of influence. In addition, the FDA will soon make it a requirement that fruits or vegetable products to have an “added sugar” category as well. This is to ensure accuracy if they contain more sugar than the original pure produce.