SILVER SPRING, MD. — The Food and Drug Administration has issued a final guidance for the declaration of added sugars on food labels for single-ingredient sugars and syrups, as well as for certain cranberry products.
The final guidelines state that the Nutrition Facts Label for single-ingredient sugars will still include a line for total grams of sugars per serving, but the line below it — which is reserved for added sugars — will only provide a per cent daily value for added sugars.
The F.D.A. said it will allow for the use of a “†” symbol immediately following the per cent daily value declaration for added sugars. The symbol will lead consumers to a statement that provides information about the gram amount of added sugars and how it contributes to the per cent daily value, the F.D.A. noted.
The updates were made in response to The Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, concerns from single-ingredient sugar and syrup producers about changes made to the Nutrition Facts Label in 2016, as well as to comments about draft guidelines released in February of last year.
The F.D.A. said that when it updated the label three years ago, it took into account that the amount of added sugars consumed by the average American exceeded recommended limits. Among other changes, the new label required companies to declare the amount of added sugars and per cent daily value for added sugars.
Companies that produce the products, which are intended to be consumed alone or added to foods by consumers, raised concerns about how the required added sugars declarations would be perceived. Then, in 2018, the Agriculture Improvement Act stated that Nutrition Facts Labels cannot require the declaration of the gram amount of added sugars for single-ingredient sugars, honey, agave and syrups, including maple syrup.
The F.D.A. said its updated guidelines are meant to reduce the potential for consumers to misinterpret single-ingredient sugars and syrups as having additional sugars added to them and to comply with the new legislative requirements.
The final guidance also provides information on labeling certain cranberry products. Because cranberries contain little natural sugar and are naturally tart, manufacturers typically add sugar to make them more palatable. Even after sugar is added, the total sugar content of these products is often equivalent to other fruit products that do not have sugars added.
In instances where sugar is added but does not exceed the level in comparable fruit products, such as cranberry juice cocktail as compared to unsweetened grape juice, the F.D.A. said it will allow the Nutrition Facts Label to include a symbol that leads consumers to a statement indicating that sugar has been added because cranberries are naturally tart. The statement also can refer to two sections of the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. It can either indicate that there is room in the diet for a limited amount of added sugar, including from nutrient-rich foods like naturally tart fruits, or refer to the recommended added sugars limit of no more than 10% of calories.
These guidelines are meant to help consumers more easily understand how certain sweetened cranberry products can be part of a healthy diet.
The F.D.A. said any company producing single-ingredient sugar or cranberry products impacted by the guidance must redesign their packaging to adhere to the new labeling requirements by July 1, 2021.
“In updating the Nutrition Facts label and later releasing the Nutrition Innovation Strategy, the goal has been to provide consumers with the information they need to make informed decisions about their diet and health, including with the products they are eating every day,” said Susan Mayne, Ph.D., director of the F.D.A.’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. “Other changes that consumers are seeing on the new label include adjusted serving sizes so that the amounts of calories and nutrients listed on the label more accurately reflect what is customarily consumed. Additionally, Americans are seeing a change in which nutrients are declared, as vitamin D and potassium are now required on the label because Americans do not always get the recommended amounts.
“The added sugars declaration is one more piece of information that consumers can use to make informed decisions about their diet. Our goal in issuing this final guidance is to help consumers better understand how consumption of single-ingredient sugars and certain cranberry products can be accommodated within recommended limits for added sugars in healthy diets.”