Confusion Over Sugar

If your customers are not already confused enough about the sugar content in foods, a new proposed study threatens to complicate the matter.

The US Food and Drug Administration recently proposed an experimental study on consumer responses to nutrition facts labels with various footnote formats and declarations about the amount of added sugars. The intent is to explore whether there is a better way to distinguish between naturally occurring sugars and added sugars in food.

In a Jan. 30 letter to the FDA’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, the American Bakers Association responded by stating that it opposes the planned consumer research. The bakers’ organization stated, “ABA believes strongly that FDA should only conduct consumer research experiments around nutrition labeling for those nutrition labeling requirements that FDA lawfully could require or permit.”

The FDA lacks the enforcement tools for a nutrition label declaration for added sugar, according to the ABA.

The ABA further stated that currently available chemical analysis cannot differentiate between naturally occurring sugars and added sugars in food. Also, the ABA commented that “it should also be recognized that in the baking process overall sugar levels change from the formulation in raw dough or batter to the level in the final product because of the fermentation process usage of sugar and additional chemical reactions in the baking process.”

Currently, the ingredient list on a food label is the listing of each ingredient in descending order of predominance, meaning that the ingredients are listed in order of predominance by weight.

The Nutrition Facts Panel presents the nutritional data for the food according to the nutrition labeling standard maintained by the FDA. This panel lists data on the nutrients that the FDA has determined are most critical in the American diet.

Nutrient content claims describe the relative level of a nutrient or dietary substance in the product, using terms such as “free,” “high” and “low.”