Daily Management Review

Striving for consumers health, US regulators decided on the most radical changes in the food labeling


The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the most sweeping changes in food labeling during the last decade. Now, according to new FDA requirements, the product’s table on the nutritional value shall separately note how many grams of sugar the manufacturer added, and how much of the maximum recommended daily dose it makes.

This FDA decision was the culmination of a longstanding conflict between US President Barack Obama's administration and food companies. The latter insisted that there is no difference if the product contains natural sugar or it has been sweetened by the product’s manufacturer. The rules on nutritional value of the product labeling remained largely unchanged since 1994, except for addition to of mandatory labeling of trans fats in 2006.

Added sugar bears no nutritional value and only increases the calorie content, supporting an increased incidence of obesity and diabetes, according to officials in the health sector. Until now, manufacturers have had to indicate recommended maximum daily doze of fat, salt, cholesterol and carbohydrates, but not sugar.

The new rules have already shocked many consumers, and can cause a severe blow to food and beverage manufacturers, especially sugary and carbonated. For example, a half-liter Coca-Cola jar contains about 130% of the recommended daily maximum of added sugar. At that, Coca-Cola still gets 70% of its revenue from soft drinks like Coke, Sprite and Fanta, though gradually increasing range of bottled water and low-calorie beverages. 

The official recommendations suggest consumption of not more than 50g of added sugar, which corresponds to 12.5 teaspoon of sugar with a standard consumption of about 2000 kcal per day. However, according to the FDA, the added food sweeteners make an average American eat about 20 teaspoons of sugar every day.

One serving of low-fat vanilla yogurt can contain 3-4 teaspoons of added sugar in addition to natural milk sugars. Flavored oat flakes can have about three teaspoons of added sugar. Added sugar can even be found in savory dishes: one portion of sauce for pasta often contains about 10% of the recommended daily amount.

The main sources of excess sugar, according to officials, is still sweet foods: fizzy, energy and sports drinks, bread, desserts, sweetened fruit drinks, dairy desserts and sweets.

Labelling of added sugar can hurt sales and push the biggest companies, including General Mills, PepsiCo, Campbell's Soup, and Coca-Cola, to change the recipe. Many companies are already taking measures to combat decline in demand for processed foods and sugary drinks since consumers tend to choose more fresh and healthy alternative.

Manufacturers have two years to adjust to the new law requirements, though they may try to challenge them in court. For those companies which annual sales do not exceed $ 10 million, the transitional period will be three years.

source: wsj.com

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