WASHINGTON – Government officials finalizing guidelines for Americans’ diets and exploring possible front-of-package food labels received a clear signal yesterday from the Institute of Medicine (IOM) – there is no scientific justification for targeting sugar.

This IOM finding, which was part of the IOM’s Examination of Front-of-Package Nutrition Rating Systems and Symbols: Phase 1 Report, is consistent with a March 2010 ruling against setting strict sugar intake limits by the European Food Safety Authority, Europe’s equivalent of the Food and Drug Administration. The European Union also rejected a new food labeling system, using a stoplight approach, to tell consumers what they should and shouldn’t eat.

“Obesity is a problem that America must address,” said Andy Briscoe, president and CEO of the Sugar Association, “but government dietary policy must be the result of sound science and common sense, not emotion or speculation. As the IOM has highlighted, having information available about serving size and calories is important in the fight against obesity.”

Sugar, like all other foods, should be consumed in moderation, Briscoe explains. But science doesn’t support the inclusion of federally mandated sugar consumption limits in the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which are due out later this year.

Those guidelines will affect nearly every public nutrition program in the United States and likely would be the basis for possible new labeling regulations.

The IOM seems to agree. “There is a lack of scientific agreement about the amount of sugars that can be consumed in a healthy diet,” it noted in yesterday’s report. “Thus, it is difficult to conclude that total sugars intake is of sufficient public health concern to be included in FOP [Front of Package] rating systems.”

Briscoe applauded the IOM for putting science first. “All-natural sugar is a healthy part of a balanced diet,” he said. “The IOM has reinforced this time after time.”
Sugar is all-natural, has just 15 calories per teaspoon, has been used safely for more than 2,000 years, and remains the world’s sweetener of choice.

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