FDA Considering Some Label Changes for Sweeteners

Not all sweeteners are created equal. Some are not metabolized the same way as sugar, but that is not marked on food or beverage packaging. Some are not even marked as being sweeteners on the list of ingredients. Now, the FDA is considering making a change.

In June, the Sugar Association filed a petition with the FDA asking for the label rules to be revisited and revised as many brands are turning to different sweeteners. Right now, people might not realize how many sweeteners they are consuming, including sugar alcohols, non-caloric sweeteners, artificial sweeteners and high-intensity sweeteners. We look at a label and just see and list of chemicals.

Consumers want and deserve more information,” Courtney Gaine, president and CEO of the Sugar Association. “Many consumers are concerned about alternative sweeteners. Some want to reduce or eliminate them in their diets, but at the very least, most want to know if a product even contains them. However, this is very difficult to do under current food labeling regulations. Current regulations are incomplete. They lack transparency and can mislead consumers rather than clarify.”

We’re in a rare position of saying we agree with the Sugar Association! If a food is “sugar free” or “reduced sugar” you deserve to know what replaced it. You should know if what replaced it is still carb-heavy. And, you should be able to trust your own healthy choices. For instance, Quaker Instant Oatmeal has a reduced sugar line of flavors that claim to have 35 percent less sugar than its regular version. But, it also has monk fruit extract and a smaller serving size.

A poll showed 66 percent of Americans want to know how their food is sweetened. Six in 10 said they want common names next to chemical names listed in the ingredients.

The new labels will most likely list natural sweeteners as added sugars, but other rules are still unclear. Last year, the FDA said that allulose didn’t need to be marked as an added sugar, but does have to be counted in the total carbs. Allulose doesn’t impact insulin response and can’t be absorbed in the intestines. They stand by that decision, but are now moving on to looking at other sweeteners as well.

The FDA is committed to providing information to manufacturers regarding the new Nutrition Facts label, which is why today we are seeking information on certain sugars and sweeteners that are metabolized differently than other traditional sugars,” said the FDA in a new statement. “We know that some manufacturers are looking for ways to reformulate their products to reduce the sugar content, while still providing products that meet consumer preferences. The use of sugars and sweeteners that provide fewer calories, that are not associated with dental cavities, and that result in a lower glycemic and insulinemic response than other sugars could be one way for industry to make products that help consumers meet dietary recommendations to limit added sugars intake.”

We are always pleased with more transparency in food labels! The easier it is to read a label, the better! We’ll just have to wait and see how this turns out!
October 21, 2020
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