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Sifting sugar: FDA proposes rule requiring disclosure of added sugars on food labels

July 24, 2015

Today, July 24, 2015, the FDA announced that on Monday, July 27, 2015, the FDA is opening up a comment period on a supplemental proposed rule related to added sugars. If adopted, the rule would apply to the Nutrition Facts Panel found on food products in the U.S. The previously proposed changes can be found in our previous post, “Trans Fat Gets the Axe: More Changes to Nutrition Facts Panel.” The supplemental rule change is a further proposed amendment to the 2014 proposed rule on changes to the nutrition facts panel, which are still under review by the FDA.  However, after consideration of both certain recommendations by the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee as well as other scientific information, the FDA has proposed more rule changes that address the percent daily value of added sugars and a proposed footnote for the Nutrition Facts Panel explaining the percent daily value concept.

Currently, the March 3, 2014, proposed rule requires a change to the disclosure of the sugar content of a food. It requires the total amount of sugars present to be disclosed. It also requires the disclosure of the total amount of added sugars. Added sugars are those sugars that a manufacturer adds to a food product above and beyond the sugars naturally present in the food. The FDA’s reasoning behind this is based on recent scientific evidence that shows naturally occurring sugars are healthier than added sugars.

The new proposed supplemental rule would also require a food’s Nutrition Facts Panel to list the percent daily value (or %DV) of those added sugars. This %DV would be based on the FDA recommendation that the daily intake of calories from added sugars not exceed 10% of total calories.

Susan Mayne, Ph.D., director of the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition was quoted by the FDA in releasing its proposed changes, explaining in the FDA's press release, “For the past decade, consumers have been advised to reduce their intake of added sugars, and the proposed percent daily value for added sugars on the Nutrition Facts label is intended to help consumers follow that advice.”

The second change in the supplemental rule is a proposed footnote. The footnote on the current nutrition facts panel is designed to help consumers understand the %DV concept. The current footnote has been determined to be somewhat complicated and vague. The change to this footnote will make the footnote shorter and proposes a more effective in explanation of the %DVs.

The FDA’s comment period on these proposed supplemental changes starts July 27, 2015, and remains open for 75 days. Members of the industry are encouraged to submit their comments and concerns regarding these changes. These changes to the Nutrition Facts panel will have an impact on the food industry both in terms of the cost to redesign labels to meet these new regulations, but as to the market positioning of the food product as well. Commenting on the proposed supplemental changes is, at this point the best vehicle for the food industry to weigh in on these regulations with the agency. We at Thompson Coburn would be happy to help any industry member craft and submit such comments.

As the FDA releases more details on these proposed changes, Life Sciences Decoded and Thompson Coburn will be adding additional posts to this blog analyzing the changes and impact they may have on the industry.