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February 12, 2020
In May 2016, FDA passed two final rules mandating a new format for the Nutrition Facts label for packaged foods. The revision, the first in two decades, reflects updated scientific data related to nutrition and assists consumers in making better informed decisions regarding products they purchase.
One major (and somewhat controversial) change to the Nutrition Facts label is the declaration of "Added Sugars." FDA justified its addition due to the impact of "added sugars" on healthy dietary patterns and the overall impact on public health. Consumption of added sugars can make it difficult to stay within the recommended 2,000 calories a day and may replace nutrient-dense foods in the diet.
"Total sugars" refers to the sum of all free mono- and disaccharides in the product. An "added sugar" is any sugar added to a product during processing or any product that is "packaged as such" (for example, a bag of table sugar), and will include syrups, honey and sugars from concentrated fruit or vegetable juices in excess of what would be expected from the same volume of 100% fruit or vegetable juice of the same type.
Manufacturers are tasked with determining the amount of added sugars in a serving of their product and declaring it on the nutrition label. FDA has made allowances for sugars from certain types of ingredients to be omitted from the declaration: lactose present due to a milk ingredient, 100% fruit juice, dried whole fruit, fruit components of fruit spreads, along with some others.
For all manufacturers that make more than US$10 million in annual food sales, the deadline to comply with FDA’s new labeling rules passed as of Jan. 1, 2020. For companies that make less than $10 million a year, the deadline is Jan. 1, 2021. In light of the timing of the Farm Bill and subsequent changes to FDA's guidance, the agency has extended the deadline via enforcement discretion for companies producing the single ingredient sugars/syrups and cranberry products described in the final guidance document. These companies will have until July 1, 2021, to comply with the new nutrition labeling regulations, regardless of their sales or business size.
To read this article in full, check out the "Sugar and sodium reduction strategies" digital magazine.
Senior Regulatory Specialist, Registrar Corp.
Anna Benevente serves as director of labeling and ingredient review at Registrar Corp (registrarcorp.com), an FDA consulting firm that helps companies comply with FDA regulations. She has been assisting companies with U.S. FDA regulations since 2009. She and her team have researched thousands of products to determine whether they meet FDA requirements for compliance.
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