Kellogg: Including ‘added sugars’ on Nutrition Facts panel will just confuse shoppers

By Elaine Watson

- Last updated on GMT

22% of consumers cannot identify the amount of total sugar in a product featuring the new look Nutrition Facts label, vs 7% for the existing label, says Kellogg
22% of consumers cannot identify the amount of total sugar in a product featuring the new look Nutrition Facts label, vs 7% for the existing label, says Kellogg

Related tags Nutrition facts Nutrition facts panel Nutrition Sugar

Almost a quarter of primary grocery shoppers are unable to correctly identify the total amount of sugar in products featuring the FDA’s ‘new-look’ Nutrition Facts labels, which require manufacturers to list ‘sugar’ and ‘added sugar’ separately, according to a Kellogg survey.

In comments​ ​submitted to the agency about proposed changes to the NF panel, Kellogg said 22%  of the 1,000 consumers it contacted in an online survey in May 2014 were unable to correctly identify the amount of total sugar in a product featuring the new look label, compared with just 7% for the existing label.

 “It’s our perspective that the Agency’s proposal to distinguish added sugarsfrom total sugars on the Nutrition Facts panel may confuse consumers,” ​said the firm.

22% of shoppers can’t work out how much sugar in total is in products with the new-look Nutrition Facts panel

The International Food Information Council, which recently surveyed 1,008 consumers (click HERE​), also found that shoppers struggled to identify the total amount of sugar in products featuring the new-look labels.

When asked about the total sugar in a product, many respondents thought they would need to add the amount in the 'added sugars' line to the amount in the 'sugars' line. And almost as many still did the same, even when the word 'sugars' was replaced with 'total sugars' in a mock-up label for extra clarity, said IFIC.

GMA members are split over the added sugars proposal

While some of the proposed changes to the Nutrition Facts panel ​will impact some companies more than others, the ‘added sugars’ proposal has generated the most heated debate, with the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) recently revealing that its membership is split over this issue, with the majority opposed, but a minority in favor, albeit with some caveats.

It said: “By mandating the separate labeling of added sugars, most GMA members believe that FDA is strongly implying to consumers that added sugars are indeed distinct and different from (and less healthful than) inherent sugars, when they are not. Thus, added sugar labeling may convey false and misleading information to consumers.”

However, some GMA members agree with the American Diabetes Association and the American Heart Association that listing added sugars will help consumers identify foods with more empty calories.

FDA: Listing added sugars will help people identify foods that are nutrient-dense

The FDA, meanwhile, acknowledges that biochemically, sugar is sugar - whether it occurs naturally in foods such as fruits or is added to a product such as soda.

However, it believes that highlighting the latter will “help individuals identify foods that are nutrient-dense within calorie limits and aid in reducing excess discretionary calorie intake from added sugars​” (click HERE​).

Click on the links below for more on the Nutrition Facts overhaul.

Should ‘added sugars' be listed on the Nutrition Facts panel?

GMA: Nutrition Facts ‘added sugar’ proposal could have bizarre consequences for fruit juice labels

Special edition - Nutrition Facts revamp: Radical overhaul or a missed opportunity?

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Added sugar, nutrition

Posted by Ivo van der Linden,

I believe as we have it here in Europe or at least on most food products, we label carbohydrates plus of which sugar (e.g. per 100ml or per glass). Works I believe, but only if people understand and able to relate/compare

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Standardized Column to Improve Comparison

Posted by Thalia,

Currant American food labels make it practically impossible to compare 'like' foods based on the serve size.

For example, the serve size listed on one brand of canned beans might be 57g, whereas another brand of the same canned beans may have a serve size of 72g. How can a consumer compare calories, sodium, or anything for that matter without a calculator?

There are many countries that have a 'per 100g/ml' column on every food label. This makes it very easy for consumers to compare macro and micronutrients in similar foods.

This also makes it a lot easier when educating patients/clients. If a client is looking for cheese, the dietitian can say "you want a cheese that contains X mg of calcium per 100g and less than X grams of fat". Or for yogurt "you want a brand that has less than X grams of sugar per 100g".

The addition of a standardized (eg: per 100g) column makes it easier for the consumer to make informed decisions about products and it makes it easier for the health professional to provide label reading education.

Lastly, it makes it harder for food manufacturers to hide behind small serves. Currently if a 'serve' contains <0.5g of trans fat, the manufacturer can list it as 0g of trans fat. Another example is aerosol spray oil - most cans list a serve as 1/4 of a second... and the corresponding calorie value is 0. That reads like the spray oil contains no calories, this is untrue and extremely misleading.

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