100% juice from concentrate may have to declare its sugar as 'added'

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

The FDA’s definition of ‘added sugars’ includes naturally-occurring sugars that are isolated from a whole food and concentrated so that sugar is the primary component, as is the case with fruit juice concentrates.

One bizarre consequence of FDA proposals to include ‘added sugars’ on the Nutrition Facts panel would be that not-from-concentrate 100% fruit juice could boast 0g ‘added sugar’ on the new-look labels, whereas 100% juice made from concentrate (containing an identical amount of sugar) would have to list its sugar as ‘added’.

In a comment (click HERE) on the FDA’s proposed Nutrition Facts overhaul, the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) notes that the FDA’s definition* of ‘added sugars’ includes naturally-occurring sugars that are isolated from a whole food and concentrated so that sugar is the primary component, as is the case with fruit juice concentrates.

“The proposal would require virtually all beverages containing fruit juice concentrate as a recipe ingredient, including 100% juice from concentrate, to bear nutrition labeling declaring the naturally occurring sugars contained in the fruit juice to be ‘added sugars’,” warns the GMA.

Move would confuse consumers and disadvantage NFC juice makers

As a result, “the consumer will be eating the same amount of sugar from the same source – fruit – but the amount of added sugar in the product will be labeled differently,” it says.

“The result is that the added sugar declaration will not assist consumers in maintaining a healthy diet and instead may just mislead consumers about the healthfulness of a product.”

The proposal would “confuse consumers and unnecessarily disadvantage beverages that are not formulated by direct expression of juice from fruit”, argues the GMA, which points out that fruit juice concentrate is often used by food manufacturers because it is more efficient/sustainable to transport concentrate and then add water at the end.

The American Beverage Association (click HERE) is equally concerned, arguing that “FDA should clarify that in juice and juice drinks, fruit juice concentrates are not added sugars if they can be counted towards the percentage juice declaration found on beverage labels.”

GMA membership split on added sugar labeling

Specific concerns about fruit concentrates notwithstanding, the GMA says its members are split on the added sugar proposals, with the majority opposed, but a minority in favor, albeit with some caveats.

It adds: “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.”

IDFA: A gram of sugar is a gram of sugar…

The International Dairy Foods Association (click HERE) is also against the added sugar proposal, arguing that, “a gram of sugar is a gram of sugar… there has been no change in the scientific consensus on this point,” while the Calorie Control Council (click HERE) fears that consumers could “add the ‘sugars’ and ‘added sugars’ lines together and erroneously think they are consuming more sugar than is actually in the product”.

According to General Mills, “It is not clear how the total amount of sugar in fruit puree should be declared in the final product. For example, some companies may decide that sugar inherent in the fruit puree should be excluded from the sum of added sugars and instead only count the sugar that is added to fruit puree as added sugar. Other companies may reason that the sugar in fruit is added sugar because it is added sweetness and count both the sugar inherent to fruit and the added sugar in the puree as added sugar. Some companies may even conclude that none of the sugar in a fruit puree is added sugar. “

While the FDA is conducting its own research, the International Food Information Council says a recent survey of 1,008 consumers (click HERE) revealed that many shoppers struggled to identify the total amount of sugar in a product if shown a label that included a line for 'added sugars' line.

Indeed, 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.

Tate & Lyle: Where does allulose fit in?

Meanwhile, Tate & Lyle (click HERE) notes that “there are certain ketohexose sugars like allulose that do not provide calories, are not metabolized, and do not raise blood glucose levels," and including them as ‘added sugars’ would be misleading and unfair.

For more comments on added sugars, click here: Should ‘added sugars' be listed on the Nutrition Facts panel?

*The FDA's proposed definition of added sugars: 'Sugars that are either added during the processing of foods, or are packaged as such, and include sugars (free, mono- and disaccharides), syrups, naturally occurring sugars that are isolated from a whole food and concentrated so that sugar is the primary component (e.g., fruit juice concentrates), and other caloric sweeteners. This would include single ingredient foods such as individually packaged table sugar. Sugar alcohols are not considered to be added sugars. Names for added sugars include: Brown sugar, corn sweetener, corn syrup, dextrose, fructose, fruit juice concentrates, glucose, high-fructose corn syrup, honey, invert sugar, lactose, maltose, malt sugar, molasses, raw sugar, turbinado, sugar, trehalose, and sucrose.'

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“We call on all manufacturers to stop adding more sugars to already sweet juices, particularly in children’s products,” said Kawther Hashem, nutritionist at Action on Sugar.

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Comments (1)

American Beverage Association, ABA Communications - 25 Aug 2014 | 09:41

American Beverage Association Response

As the discourse about updating nutrition labels continues to unfold, we would like to mention the non-alcoholic beverage industry has led the way on clear calorie labeling. For example, since 2010 beverage companies have shown calorie counts on the front of every bottle, can and pack they produce. These labels on beverage containers formed the Clear on Calories initiative, which was launched in support of First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move!” initiative. In addition, we’ve labeled beverage containers up to 20 ounces as single servings on the Nutrition Facts Panel. And one more example: our Calories Count Vending Program was designed to remind consumers to “Check Then Choose” and consider buying a low- or no-calorie beverage from vending machines. These, and other steps our industry has taken, continue to help consumers make informed choices. -American Beverage Association

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