The Sugar Association Calls For Withdrawal of ‘Added Sugars’ Labeling Proposal in Comments Filed to FDA

Lack of science, legal authority and costs are raised with other substantial concerns 

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WASHINGTON, D.C., August 1, 2014 – The Sugar Association (SA) filed comments today in response to Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Proposed Rule, Food Labeling: Revision of the Nutrition and Supplement Facts Labels. SA is calling on FDA to withdraw its “added sugars” labeling proposal, noting that it represents a reversal of FDA’s long-standing science-based position on labeling.

In its comments, SA expresses concern about the use of the misleading term “added sugars” and that the lack of science to justify “added sugars” labeling sets an alarming precedent for this and future food product labeling regulations.

The Association raised serious concerns about the contradiction between the science cited to support “added sugars” labeling and the Agency’s assertion in the Proposed Rule that, “We generally consider scientific evidence to be ‘well established’ when such consensus reports have determined the evidence to be ‘conclusive,’ ‘documented,’ or ‘strong’.”

“General dietary guidance in the 2010 Dietary Guidelines to increase or reduce certain components of the diet has merit for the general population. However, we have serious concerns that it is a gross expansion of the intent of the law governing the Dietary Guidelines for Americans to use selective dietary guidance from a single edition of the DGA as the primary basis to promulgate food labeling regulations,” the comments state.

SA points out that a thorough examination of the National Evidence Library scientific evidence reviews, which the 2010 DGAC used to support their “added sugars” guidance, confirms that no “conclusive” “documented” or “strong” evidence was cited in support of the assertion that “added sugars” contributes to weight gain, nutrient displacement, displacement of nutrient-rich foods, obesity and heart disease.   

SA notes that no authoritative scientific body has found a public health need to set an upper level (UL) for “added sugars” intake, including the Institute of Medicine in 2002 and the European Food Safety Authority in 2010, which was confirmed by FDA in the Proposed Rule. 

The Association expressed a number of additional concerns with the proposed “added sugars” labeling, outlined below:

  • Because emphasis on individual macronutrients content over caloric content is at odds with the principles expressed in the “Calories Count” recommendations, labeling should deemphasize individual macronutrients in the nutrition facts panel (NFP) and emphasize the caloric contribution of a product.
  • The unavoidable result of using “added sugars” labeling as an incentive for food manufacturers to reformulate foods to reduce “added sugars” will not only fail to assist consumers in planning healthful diets, but may actually deceive consumers into purchasing products that are not reduced in calories, and are sometimes higher in both calories and fat, than the original products.
  • “Added sugars” labeling conflicts with U.S. endorsement of the Codex Committee on Food Labeling position and would thus impede global labeling harmonization and trade.
  • The Agency concedes they are not aware of any “analytical method that is capable of distinguishing between added and intrinsically occurring sugars in a food product.” Thus, according to FDA, the regulations cannot be enforced without unprecedented recordkeeping and inspection requirements, which would be imposed on tens-of-thousands of food producers.  

SA also notes that there are legitimate questions as to whether FDA has the legal authority to exponentially expand its authority to require recordkeeping and inspection of these proprietary records. 

“In keeping with the President’s Executive Order 13563, new product labeling regulations should be based solely on the best available science and considerable deference should be given to the fact that implementation of this regulation would be excessively burdensome and costly for the entire food industry and ultimately the consuming public,” the comments conclude.

To view SA’s comments and supplemental information in its entirety, click here

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