Additional food labeling requirements proposed by an activist group would mislead consumers into believing there is a difference between naturally occurring sugars and sugar added to food products, according to the Grocery Manufacturers of America.

In comments filed with the Food and Drug Administration, GMA urged the agency to deny a petition by the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) calling for the phrase "added sugars" to be listed on product labels.

"Added sugars and naturally-occurring sugars are indistinguishable to the body. Special labeling requirements for added sugars would lead consumers to falsely believe that added sugars are different from and worse than naturally occurring sugars in foods and beverages," said Lisa Katic, R.D., GMA Director, Scientific and Nutrition Policy. She rejected CSPI's assertion that added sugars are detrimental to one's health.

"Decades of scientific research have shown that there is no underlying link between sugars or added sugars and disease," she said. "Therefore, there is no public health need for added sugars labeling.

"Nutrition labeling should provide information that is material and useful to consumers when making food choices. Added sugars labeling would be inconsistent with that objective."

Katic noted that added sugars labeling would impose an unnecessary record- keeping burden on food manufacturers and potentially increase the cost of food products.

"In the absence of any public health rationale, this added regulatory and enforcement burden is unnecessary."

GMA's comments are available at www.gmabrands.com.

GMA is the world's largest association of food, beverage and consumer product companies. With U.S. sales of more than $460 billion, GMA members employ more than 2.5 million workers in all 50 states. The organization applies legal, scientific and political expertise from its member companies to vital food, nutrition and public policy issues affecting the industry. Led by a board of 42 Chief Executive Officers, GMA speaks for food and consumer product manufacturers at the state, federal and international levels on legislative and regulatory issues. The association also leads efforts to increase productivity, efficiency and growth in the food, beverage and consumer products industry.