FDA Calls for Beefing Up Information on Added Sugar to Food Labels

The proposal marks the latest attempt to give consumers more information about the foods they consume.

The FDA today proposed changing the Nutrition Facts labels on packaged foods to feature the percent daily value of added sugar, a move that advocates say would give clarity to consumers trying to limit the amount of sugar in their diets.

The percent daily value tells how much a nutrient in a serving of food contributes to a daily diet and would be based on a recommendation that the daily caloric intake from added sugars not exceed 10% of total calories.

Better product labeling, including the possibility of labels on the front of some products, has long been a goal of those who say Americans do not understand how much sugar, fat, and salt are in the products they consume. FDA’s move is based on evidence and a recommendation included in the 2015 report of the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, even though the final Dietary Guidelines for Americans have not been adopted.

Today’s proposed rule issued supplements the March 3, 2014, attempt to update the Nutrition Facts label. In that rule, FDA proposed that food companies include added sugars on the Nutrition Facts label. The proposed rule did not include the declaration of the percent daily value for added sugars.

In a statement, the FDA said its initial proposal to include the amount of added sugars on the Nutrition Facts label “is now further supported by newly reviewed studies suggesting healthy dietary patterns, including lower amounts of sugar-sweetened foods and beverages, are strongly associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease.”

Sugars are added to foods and beverages without providing nutrients, the agency said.

“The FDA has a responsibility to give consumers the information they need to make informed dietary decisions for themselves and their families,” said Susan Mayne, PhD, director of the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. “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 current label requires the percent daily value be listed for total fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, sodium, total carbohydrate, dietary fiber, calcium and iron.

To ensure that consumers understand what “percent daily value” means, the FDA also wants to add a short description to product labels. The footnote would say, “The percent daily value (%DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a serving of food contributes to a daily diet. 2000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.”

The FDA is seeking public comment on the proposal for 75 days. However, the agency is still taking comments on the March 2014 proposal and will now reopen the comment period on that rule.