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ADA praises FDA for including added sugars in updated nutrition labels

May 20, 2016

By Jennifer Garvin

— The Food and Drug Administration announced May 20 that it has finalized new requirements for Nutrition Facts labels, which for the first time emphasize the amount of added sugars in packaged foods.

The new label is consistent with the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which advise limiting added sugars to less than 10 percent of the total calories consumed each day. FDA said it hopes the new label will make it easier for consumers to make “better informed food choices.”

“We applaud FDA for giving consumers another tool to make informed decisions about their added sugars intake,” said Dr. Carol Gomez Summerhays, ADA president, in a statement. “For years, we’ve encouraged consumers to monitor — and minimize — their added sugar intake. Now they can do so simply by reading a nutrition label.”

The ADA has long advocated for greater scrutiny of added sugar’s effect on oral health. In May 2015, the Association filed comments on the Scientific Report of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, which served as the basis for developing the new guidelines. In November 2015, the ADA House of Delegates formally endorsed the World Health Organization’s recommendation to limit added sugar consumption to less than 10 percent of daily caloric intake.

“We need more data about the extent to which dental caries rates fluctuate with changes in total added sugar consumption, and over what periods of time,” Dr. Summerhays said. “Until we have better data, limiting added sugar intake to less that 10 percent of energy intake seems like a reasonable public health goal.”

Most food manufacturers will be required to use the new label by July 26, 2018, according to FDA, although “manufacturers with less than $10 million in annual sales” will have until 2019 to comply. The FDA said it plans to “conduct outreach and education efforts” on the new label requirements.

“For more than 20 years, Americans have relied on the Nutrition Facts label as a leading source of information regarding calories, fat and other nutrients to help them understand more about the foods they eat in a day,” said Robert Califf, M.D., FDA commissioner, in a news release. “The updated label makes improvements to this valuable resource so consumers can make more informed food choices — one of the most important steps a person can take to reduce the risk of heart disease and obesity.”

Other key updates to the nutrition label include:
  • A new design to highlight calories and servings.
  • For packages that are between one and two servings, the calories and other nutrients will be required to be labeled as one serving because people typically consume it in one sitting. For instance, a 20-ounce soda will be considered one serving.
  • Updated daily values for nutrients such as sodium, dietary fiber and vitamin D that are consistent with Institute of Medicine recommendations and the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

For more information about the Association and nutrition, visit ADA.org/nutrition.