FDA will not require ‘added sugars’ call-out on pure honey, maple syrup

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FDA will not require ‘added sugars’ call-out on pure honey, maple syrup

09/07/2018
Photo courtesy of the National Honey Board

Flooded with industry complaints for proposing pure maple syrup and jars of honey list “”added sugars” on their updated Nutrition Facts panels, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has decided it will not enforce the controversial declaration on the products when “‘packaged as such.”’

A statement Sept. 6 from FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb described the agency’s updated approach for including added sugar information on the Nutrition Facts labels of pure maple syrup and honey.

“Advancing better nutrition is one of my top priorities and implementing the update to the iconic Nutrition Facts Label — the first overhaul in 20 years — is a key part of that commitment,” Gottleib stated. “We’ve made it our goal to increase consumer awareness of the quantity of added sugars in food products consistent with recent dietary guideline recommendations. The updated Nutrition Facts Label is an important part of this effort. The new label also contains the new daily value for added sugars, so consumers can better understand how foods with added sugars can fit into a healthy dietary pattern.”

Gottlieb explained that the final rule on the new Nutrition Facts Label includes a line for “added sugars,” which is designed to facilitate the difference between naturally occurring sugars contained in such foods as fruit and vegetables and caloric sugars that are defined as sweeteners that include not only sugar but also honey and maple syrup as well as other sweeteners.

“There’s strong and consistent evidence that healthy dietary patterns characterized, in part, by lower intakes of sweetened foods and beverages, are associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease,” Gottlieb said in the statement.

Earlier, the agency proposed that “added sugars” be described as “packaged as such,” on foods including bags of table sugar, jars of honey or containers of maple syrup. “We recognized that this new labeling information on ‘packaged as such’ products may inadvertently lead consumers to think their pure products, such as a jar of honey or maple syrup, may actually contain added table sugar or corn syrup because there are ‘added sugars’ listed on the label,” Gottlieb continued.

The FDA offered to compromise, with draft guidance advising food manufacturers to adopt an obelisk symbol on pure honey and pure maple syrup products after the added sugars percent daily value information on containers, directing consumers to an explanation of what is meant by added sugars.

The draft guidance drew more than 3,000 negative comments, indicating there were further opportunities to update the approach. “We’re grateful for this feedback,” Gottlieb said. “It has helped us identify a solution that we think will more adequately address concerns and provide needed clarity to consumers. The revisions “will provide a path forward for pure, single-ingredient ‘packaged as such’ products that does not involve the standard ‘added sugars’ declaration on the Nutrition Facts Label.”

Gottlieb also said the FDA is not considering changes to the required percent daily value for these products, including for products like pure honey and maple syrup, he added. “Such a solution strikes the balance of addressing producer concerns that [the] products could be perceived as being economically adulterated while still informing consumers on how these products contribute to their daily added sugar intake.”

More details on Gottlieb’s announcement are available from the FDA here.