Food Labels

New Nutrition Facts Label, Now Final, Targets Sugar

New Nutrition Facts Label, FinalAt the PHA Summit yesterday, First Lady Michelle Obama announced that the new nutrition facts label is now final, putting added sugar in the crosshairs for consumers who are paying attention. FDA notes eight changes to the label, but the real action has been focused on sugar all along. Companies have up to three years to make the changes.

Until now, consumers have had no way to know how much sugar was added to a processed food product. Now it will not only be called out on the label, consumers will have a reference daily value for how much they should consume — 50 grams. So a 20 ounce bottle of soda will have 130% of the daily allowance.

Sectors of  the food industry that add a lot of sugar to their products (yogurt makers and cranberry growers, for example) put up a fuss about calling out added sugars. Their argument was “sugar is sugar.” They argued that added sugar is no more harmful than any other sugars in a food product. The American Heart Association, the American Diabetes Association, the Obesity Society, and most heath advocates did not agree and supported the new label.

Now the experiment starts. Makers of products with a lot of added sugar will face pressure to reformulate. The food supply and food consumption patterns will change in ways that are not totally predictable.

It’s a reasonable experiment, but make no mistake. It is an experiment. Hopefully, it will turn out better than the low-fat experiment of the 1980s.

Click here for more from the New York Times and here for more from Food Navigator USA.

Food Labels, photograph © Dawn Huczek / flickr

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May 21, 2016

4 Responses to “New Nutrition Facts Label, Now Final, Targets Sugar”

  1. May 21, 2016 at 9:05 am, Becky Hand said:

    I see that many companies are now using fruit purees and fruit nectar to sweeten ingredients (instead of typical sugar). Will these stripped down versions of fruit be count as “added sugar” since that is how they are being used???

  2. May 21, 2016 at 10:20 am, Mary-Jo Overwater said:

    I think it’s a step in the right direction. Transparency is always better. People are still free to choose, but they have a right to know and understand that certain products may not be as ‘healthy’ as they are deemed and marketed. Many people read labels. The clearer labels are a great pervasive way to educate on calories, serving sizes, and nutrient density of foods. The distinction between naturally-occurring sugars and added sugars should, especially, help clarify items that are normally associated with ‘health-promoting’, like certain yogurts (not so much the plain, but the fruited and flavored), cereal bars, cereals, salad dressings, sauces, and beverages. I think it will positively modify dietary consumption habits, and, more importantly, improve resultant health bio-markers, but, indeed, the proof in the (hopefully, reformulated to be much lower in added sugar) pudding remains to be seen. 🙂

  3. May 21, 2016 at 4:39 pm, Ted said:

    THanks, Mary-Jo. I think it’s a good idea with results that are not completely predictable. I am eager to see where it leads us.

  4. May 21, 2016 at 4:40 pm, Ted said:

    My guess is that some of these tricks will count as added sugar, some will not, and some will fall into a gray zone that we can fight about. But I have no doubt that something will take the place of added sugar in the food supply.