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

Last updated on 28-Aug-2014 at 16:33 GMT2014-08-28T16:33:05Z - By Elaine Watson+
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
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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 sugars from 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?

Related topics: Food labeling and marketing, Nutrition Facts, Sugar reduction, Regulation, Manufacturers, Views, Bakery, Healthy Foods, Snacks, Carbohydrates and fibers (sugar, starches), Sweeteners (intense, bulk, polyols)