The US Food and Drug Administration has put forward expressing information on added sugars in percentages

The US Food and Drug Administration has put forward expressing information on added sugars in percentages

The US Food and Drug Administration has proposed including the percentage daily value for added sugars on the Nutrition Facts label used in the country.

In 2014, the FDA set out plans to include the amount of added sugars in grams but without information on a daily value expressed in percentages.

The revision follows a recommendation earlier this year from a committee advising the US government on the next iteration of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which are official nutrition information updated every five years.

Among its recommendations, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans Committee said the Nutrition Facts front-of-pack nutrition label "should include added sugars – in grams and teaspoons – and include a percent daily value, to assist consumers in identifying the amount of added sugars in foods and beverages and making informed dietary decisions".

It also called for consumers to cut their intake of added sugars to no more than 10% of the daily energy intake.

Setting out its proposal to include percentage information, the FDA said its own 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".

The FDA said the percentage information would be based on the recommendation the daily intake of calories from added sugars not exceed 10% of total calories.

It added: "The percent daily value indicates how much a nutrient in a serving of food contributes to a daily diet and would help consumers make informed choices for themselves and their families.

At present, the Nutrition Facts label includes information on the per cent daily value for calcium, total carbohydrate, cholesterol, total fat, saturated fat, dietary fibre, iron and sodium.

The FDA is also proposing to change the footnote on the Nutrition Facts label to help consumers understand the percent daily value concept. In addition, the FDA is releasing results of its consumer studies on the declaration of added sugars and the footnote.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest, a US consumer group, supports the proposal for more information on added sugars.

Jim O'Hara, the health promotion policy director, said: "The Food and Drug Administration’s proposal to include a percent Daily Value for added sugars on the Nutrition Facts panel is a major public health victory that would greatly benefit consumers. It’s about time consumers knew that a 20-ounce soda has 130 percent of the added sugars they should consume each day. CSPI will continue to urge the FDA to require that the amount of sugar be expressed in teaspoons, as well as grams."

The National Confectioners Association said it supported moves to help consumers "make the choices that are right for them".

However, it insisted changes to labelling rules had to be based on "the highest quality of scientific evidence" and added: "We do not support a daily value for added sugars, because the science shows that the body does not distinguish added from intrinsic sugars – and any new labelling requirements should not create unnecessary confusion for consumers."

The Grocery Manufacturers Association, which represents packaged food makers across the sector, also questioned the science behind the FDA's proposal, arguing the agency should have looked at recommendations from the Institute of Medicine, rather than the Dietary Guidelines for Americans Committee.

The GMA said the committee was "tasked with developing dietary recommendations not nutrient recommendations" and has "a broader mandate and essentially recommends diets that meet nutrient intakes established by the IOM".

It said: "The DGAC has neither the scope of expertise nor the available time required to perform the in-depth evaluations that an IOM committee typically conducts.

"GMA has provided extensive comments on FDA’s earlier proposals and will be reviewing the supplemental proposal and providing detailed comments. However, we did note that they are basing their proposed DV for added sugars on the DGAC recommendations rather than on IOM recommendations.

"This raises serious concerns because the DGAC did not use the rigorous approach used by the IOM when developing recommend[ed] nutrient intakes, a point we made in formal comments on the DGAC advisory committee report, but instead relied on food pattern modeling and existing reports. Before FDA requires that a percent daily value be declared for any nutrient, it must assure that the daily value is based on intake levels evaluated through an independent, rigorous, scientific process such as used by the IOM."

The Sugar Association, which represents the sugar industry, criticised the proposal.

"From an initial review of their supplemental proposal to require a declaration of the percent daily value for added sugars,it appears they are making assertions that lack adequate scientific evidence," the association said.

"The FDA's recommendations are based on the limited and weak scientific evidence found in the 2015 Dietary Guidelines report. Oddly, the quality and strength of the science used to support the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee's added sugars recommendations would not meet FDA's own high standards for scientific integrity."

It added: "The Sugar Association plans to submit comprehensive comments that will oppose this proposal and examine the level of scientific evidence at the basis of the misguided recommendation."

The FDA is seeking public comment on the proposal for 75 days from today (27 July). The agency is reviewing comments received on the 2014 proposed rule and is reopening the comment period on those plans for 60 days to invite public comment on two consumer studies related to label formats. The agency will consider comments on both proposals before issuing a final rule.