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The US FDA finalized four guidance documents and issued one draft guidance document regarding the new nutrition facts panel and labeling. The draft relates to the declaration of added sugars for honey, maple syrup and certain cranberry products.

SAFEGUARDS | Food NO. 029/18

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The United States Food and drug Administration (US FDA) issued five guidance documents on March 1, 2018 regarding the new nutrition panel and labeling. One was a draft guidance and four are final guidance documents. The draft document concerns the declaration of added sugars for honey, maple and certain cranberry products [1].

The US FDA issued a final rule in 2016 to change the new nutrition facts panel and information to help consumers make more informed choices which can lead to better health for them and their families. While the compliance was to come into effect July 26, 2018 for manufacturers with $10 million or more annual sales and July 26, 2019 for smaller manufacturers, they have issued a proposal that would change these dates to January 1, 2020 and January 1, 2021, respectively. This proposal is expected to be finalized this spring.

Meanwhile as questions and issues are being brought forth by the industry and consumers the US FDA is providing and updating guidance and industry materials. The one recent draft guidance addresses the possible consumer confusion and unfairness of the new regulations. Since honey and maple syrup meet the definition of added sugars, products containing these as an ingredient must list the amount of added sugars and the percentage daily value (%DV) of this amount. While this is understandable when these components are used as ingredients, this can create confusion as when these products are simply the single ingredient and are named as honey or maple syrup they can have no added sweeteners and must be just pure honey and pure maple syrup. The US FDA will allow the following symbol to be placed after the %DV † and the following statement to be placed on the packaging “†All these sugars are naturally occurring in honey“.

Since cranberries are a tart fruit, to make them palatable in dried and juice formats, sweeteners are added. Since most fruits don’t require this addition the industry believes that this will be detrimental to the cranberry industry and some consumers would forgo the benefits of this fruit. In conclusion, the US FDA will allow the same symbol after the %DV and the following statement “†Sugars added to improve the palatability of naturally tart cranberries. The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans state that there is room for limited amounts of Added Sugars in the diet, especially from nutrient dense food like naturally tart cranberries“.

The other documents essentially have either minor changes or the expected conclusion from the US FDA:

  • Guidance for Industry: Scientific Evaluation of the Evidence on the Beneficial Physiological Effects of Isolated or Synthetic Non-digestible Carbohydrates Submitted as a Citizen Petition (21 CFR 10.30) [2]
  • Guidance for Industry: Proper Labeling of Honey and Honey Products [3]
  • Guidance for Industry: Reference Amounts Customarily Consumed: List of Products for Each Product Category [4]
  • Guidance for Industry: Serving Sizes of Foods That Can Reasonably Be Consumed At One Eating Occasion; Dual-Column Labeling; Updating, Modifying, and Establishing Certain Reference Amounts Customarily Consumed; Serving Size for Breath Mints; and Technical Amendments; Small Entity Compliance Guide [5]

The US FDA will continue to listen to the industry and consumers and will assess these issues and may make exceptions or changes as necessary.

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