Update on the proposed changes to food labels by the FDA

August 24, 2015 Uma Pisharody, MD, FAAP

In a previous blog post, I mentioned that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is making changes to nutrition facts labels (originally introduced 20 years ago to help consumers make informed and healthy food choices).

On July 27, 2015, the FDA added a supplement to the initially proposed changes (originally published March 2015). It proposes that food manufacturers not only list the grams of added sugar, but also declare the percent daily value (%DV) for added sugars, which is a major step forward in aligning with international standards for sugar intake, and a totally novel concept in terms of food labelling in the U.S.

The current nutrition label already informs us the %DV for many nutrients including total fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, fiber, sodium, vitamins and minerals like iron and calcium. While it also specifies the %DV for carbohydrate intake, it has never specifically mentioned a daily limit for sugar intake.

Currently, recommendations for daily added sugar intake vary depending on the source. For instance, the federal government, American Heart Association(AHA) and World Health Organization (WHO) each have different suggestions for dietary sugar limits, which again vary based on age and gender.

Largely due to these discrepancies, the USDA Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee has not yet finalized its new federal standard, but suggests it will set the upper limit of added sugar intake at 10% of total caloric intake (which should be noted, is still double the latest proposed by WHO, far more conservative suggestion of 5%).

I encourage you to visit the FDA’s page highlighting the changes, adding comments to the docket. Note that the 65-day public comment period started on 7/27/2015 and ends on 10/13/2015.

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