Disagreement on Labeling of Non-Traditional Sugar
Industry groups and the sugar industry have submitted comments to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regarding potential labeling exemptions for certain types of sugars that are not fully metabolized in the human body. Industry members—including General Mills, Hershey, and Unilever—support FDA’s effort to reassess labeling mandates for sugars. However, the sugar industry opposes the initiative and is urging FDA to continue requiring that all traditional and non-traditional sugars be declared on the Nutrition Facts Panel (NFP). Currently, FDA looks at sugar by chemical content rather than by physiological effect; thus, there is currently no difference in the way “non-traditional” sugars like allulose, D-tagatose, and isomaltulose are declared on the NFP.
By way of background, in October 2020, FDA issued final guidance on the declaration of allulose on the NFP and Supplement Facts and its caloric content. The Agency intends to exclude allulose from the Total Sugars and Added Sugars declarations on the NFP and Supplement Facts and use a general factor of 0.4 calories per gram (kcal/g) for allulose when calculating declarations. Further, the Agency requested comments on the nutrition labeling of non-traditional sugars, which are metabolized differently (i.e., contribute fewer calories), are not associated with dental cavities, and lead to lower blood glucose and insulin levels after a meal than traditional sugars.
In its comments, the sugar industry argued that FDA’s proposed change would confuse and mislead consumers by indicating non-traditional sugars are healthier and that it fails to clarify that many non-traditional sugars are synthetically produced. The sugar industry noted that, if non-traditional sugars like allulose are not listed on labels as sugars, then “allulose manufacturers should be precluded from referring to allulose as a ‘rare sugar’ or a ‘natural sugar.’” We will continue to monitor any developments.