The American Bakers Association has submitted comments to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) opposing a research proposal to examine how consumers might perceive labeling of added sugars on nutrition labels.
Currently, Nutrition Facts panels highlight total sugars, but in a May 31 Federal Register notice the FDA said it intended to conduct a study examining consumer perception of a number of different nutrition labeling formats, including listing added sugars.
In a July 30 letter to the FDA , the American Bakers Association (ABA) said: “ABA believes strongly that FDA should only conduct consumer research experiments around nutrition labeling for those nutrition labeling declarations that FDA lawfully could require or permit.”
It argues that FDA’s enforcement of label declarations is based on chemical analysis, but it would be impossible to determine by that method whether the sugars in a product were naturally occurring or added.
“For FDA to be able to differentiate between the two in a food formulation for the purpose of enforcing a nutrition labeling declaration, FDA would be required to access company formulation records,” the letter reads. “Currently, FDA does not have the authority to access formulation records for the purpose of nutrition labeling enforcement.”
In the original Federal Register entry, the FDA said that it was not aware of any research that had examined how consumers might understand and use information on added sugars.
“This study will also explore how declaring the added sugars content of foods might affect consumers' attention to and understanding of the sugars and calorie contents and other information on the Nutrition Facts label,” it said, adding that it had received numerous comments about the declaration of added sugars in response to a 2007 notice, even though it had not asked any questions about added sugars on nutrition labels.
The ABA letter also said that the US delegation to the Codex Committee on Food Labelling had proposed deleting added sugars from the list of nutrients because of the difficulty in differentiating between added and intrinsic sugars analytically, and the body’s inability to differentiate between them. The CCFL suggested that the issue of added sugars should be dealt with by a means other than the nutrition label, the ABA said.