Update (June 18, 2019):
The FDA has issued its final guidance report for the “Declaration of Added Sugars on Honey, Maple Syrup and Certain Cranberry Products.’
After reviewing the comments from the February’s 2018 draft guidance report, as well as following the legislative requirements for the 2018 Farm Bill, the FDA has made the executive decision to provide syrups and certain cranberry products with an added sugar category on their nutrition labels.
The added sugar labels will work to coincide with the 2018 Farm Bill which states, “Nutrition facts labels cannot require the declaration of the gram amount of added sugars for single-ingredient sugars, honey, agave and syrups including maple syrup.”
The final guidance report indicates the added sugar category on Nutrition Labels will only display the daily recommended value of overall added sugar.
Following that information, a “†” symbol will be displayed next to the daily recommended added sugar value. This symbol will redirect consumers to additional information off the label displaying the products added sugar count in grams, and how it will affect their daily added sugar intake.
An example reads ‘One serving adds 10g of sugar to your diet and represents 20 percent of the Daily Value for Added Sugars,’ the FDA release states.
The goal of the finalized guidance report is to help consumers understand that although single-ingredient sugar and syrups carry no added sugar, they still contribute to consumers diets in the same way. It also states single-ingredient sugars and syrups can be apart of a healthy diet if they are consumed within certain limits.
The “†” symbol will also apply to cranberry products. Cranberries are more bitter than most fruit, making added sugar common to enhance their flavor. Manufacturers claim after adding sugar to cranberries, they carry the same sugar profile as regular fruit. The symbol will display information to consumers that suggest sugar has been added because cranberries are naturally tart.
Companies that manufacture single-ingredient sugar, syrups, and cranberry products will have until July 1st, 2021 to revise their labels.
Draft guidance from the FDA has been getting anything but a positive reaction from consumers and manufacturers.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.