Consumers join the fight for complete and accurate labeling of artificial sweeteners in packaged foods
FDA must act now to help families make informed decisions regarding sugar substitutes
More than 10,000 consumers across the United States have joined the fight for sweeping reform of the government’s labeling regulations covering the use of alternative sweeteners in packaged food by signing an online petition urging the U.S. Food & Drug Administration to require food companies to place clear, complete and accurate information on food labels.
The names of consumers who signed the online petition are being submitted today, Sept. 22, to the FDA through the agency’s public docket of comments.
“A sharp and rapid increase in the use of sugar substitutes by food companies has changed the landscape of the food supply without many consumers knowing. This is of special concern for consumers with young children who are often most interested in knowing which sweeteners their families consume,” said P. Courtney Gaine, PhD, RD, president and CEO of the Sugar Association. “More than 10,000 consumers to date have spoken, signaling FDA it’s time to take action and provide the information on sweeteners they want and that they deserve.”
The use of alternative sweeteners in food and beverages has surged more than 300% in the last five years. Once used primarily as a tabletop sweetener, alternative sweeteners are now everywhere in the food supply — found in products like bread, cereal, granola bars, yogurt, ice cream, milk and children’s beverages.
But it’s virtually impossible for shoppers to know what alternative sweeteners are in which packaged foods because the FDA only requires food companies to list the chemical names of sugar substitutes on food ingredient labels. So, consumers only see names like Xylitol, Hydrogenated Starch Hydrolysates, Saccharin, Acesulfame Potassium, Neotame, Isomalt and Lactitol on ingredients lists without even knowing what they are and why they are used.
Last year, the Sugar Association filed a Citizen Petition asking the FDA to enact sweeping reform of federal labeling requirements to enhance transparency around alternative sweeteners in giving consumers access to complete and accurate information about this class of ingredients.
The petition is supported by the National Consumers League, a leading proponent of full disclosure of sugar substitutes on food packages. The American Academy of Pediatrics and Center for Science in the Public Interest have also called on the FDA for more transparency in sugar substitute labeling and an end to misleading sugar claims.
“Consumers deserve to know what’s in their food and the FDA needs to act quickly to rectify this serious gap in food labeling and bring full transparency to the use of sugar substitutes,” Gaine said.
For more information about the Campaign for Sweetener Transparency, go to https://www.sugar.org/about/positions-principles/campaign-for-sweetener-transparency/. To sign the change.org petition, go to https://www.change.org/p/u-s-food-drug-administration-fda-stop-hiding-artificial-sweeteners-in-our-food. To send comments directly to the FDA, go to https://www.sugar.org/about/positions-principles/campaign-for-sweetener-transparency/take-action/.
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