NATIONAL HARBOR, MD. — The American Medical Association on Nov. 13 said it had adopted policy designed to increase consumer awareness of added sugars, which includes urging the Food and Drug Administration to develop front-of-pack warning labels for items with high levels of added sugars. The A.M.A. also adopted policy urging food manufacturers to pursue more obvious packaging distinctions between products that contain the most common food allergens identified in the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act and those that do not.
The A.M.A. also encouraged the F.D.A. to limit the amount of added sugars allowed in food products that make health claims or nutrition content claims on the front of packaging.
“The A.M.A. believes that food packaging should include more transparent information about the contents within our food so the healthy choice can be the easy choice for consumers,” said Albert J. Osbahr, III, M.D., a member of the A.M.A. board of trustees. “When consumers have access to the amount of sugar they are consuming, they may choose foods with less sugar, which can help prevent debilitating chronic medical conditions such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease, which affects millions of Americans.”
Food manufacturers soon will have to list the amount of added sugars in their products on the Nutrition Facts Label, which often appears on the side of packaging and not on the front. Manufacturers with $10 million or more in annual food sales have until Jan. 1, 2020, to come into compliance, according to the F.D.A. Manufacturers with less than $10 million have until Jan. 1, 2021. The F.D.A. defines added sugars as those that either are added during the processing of foods or packaged as such.
The F.D.A. requires that if a product contains one or more of the eight common allergens, the packaging must list the allergens contained in the product. The eight major allergens as defined by the F.D.A. are milk, egg, fish, crustacean shellfish, tree nuts, wheat, peanuts and soybeans. The F.D.A. currently is accepting comments on the prevalence and severity of sesame allergies in the United States and may take regulatory action that would require sesame to be labeled as an allergen on packaged foods.