Adding to the proposed changes to the Nutrition Facts label—the first tweaks in 20 years—the Food and Drug Administration has suggested yet another: adding the percentage of "added sugars" to the daily value list on the labels of packaged foods.
"Without information like this about a nutrient, it's hard to know if you're eating too much or too little in a given day," Susan Mayne, director of the FDA's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, wrote in a blog post about the proposal. "For example, a consumer who drinks a 20-ounce sugared beverage may be surprised to know it contains about 66 grams of added sugar, which would be listed on the label as 132 percent of the daily value."
Last year, the FDA announced the first changes to the Nutrition Facts label since 1993. Pursuant to the proposal, specific elements will now be emphasized, including the calorie content and servings per container, both of which would appear in larger, bolder type. Serving sizes will be adjusted to "reflect the amounts people currently eat," the agency said, rather than amounts based on consumption data from the 1970s and 80s. The daily values for certain nutrients will also be updated.
Other proposals add new data points for potassium and vitamin D, while others remove items such as calories from fat and vitamins A and C. Products typically consumed in a single sitting (a 20-ounce soda, for example, or a 15-ounce can of soup) must include information for a single serving instead of breaking down information for multiple servings on a label.
And the "sugars" column will now read "added sugars," as a percentage of daily values, to exclude naturally occurring sugar in the product.
The agency also announced a recommendation for daily value of added sugars: 50 grams for persons aged 4 and up and 25 grams for those ages 1 to 3, based on a 2,000-calorie-per-day diet.
The change came after the FDA reviewed a new report—the Scientific Report of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee—that "provided evidence suggesting a strong association between a dietary pattern intake characterized, in part, by a reduced intake of added sugars and a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease," the agency explained in the Federal Register notice of the proposal.
Interested parties have until September 25 to comment on the change.
The FDA also reopened the comment period to invite responses on two consumer studies that the agency added to the administrative record, although neither caused the FDA to make any changes to its planned approach. One examined how label changes potentially effected 160 participants, while the second, a web-based experiment involving more than 5,000 individuals, was designed to see if the proposed Nutrition Fact modifications would impact their interpretation of the information presented.
To read the FDA's blog post announcing the "added sugars" proposal, click here.
To comment on the proposal to add the percent daily value of added sugars to the Nutrition Label, click here.
To comment on the two consumer studies being added to the FDA's administrative record, click here.
Why it Matters: The proposed changes to packaged food labels will have a major impact not only on the food industry, but will significantly effect a company's marketing and advertising claims. Changing serving size and the new sugar information, particularly the inclusion of percent daily values, could alter how a product is advertised and the claims that a company can make.