FDA Listens to the Science, Proposes Daily Value for Added Sugars

Statement from Pallavi Phartiyal, Union of Concerned Scientists

Published Jul 28, 2015

Washington (July 28, 2015)—As part of its plan to update the Nutrition Facts labels that Americans see on most packaged foods, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration proposed, for the first time, to recommend limiting added sugar intake to 10% of Americans’ daily calories. This change would give Americans more information about their consumption of added sugar, which science shows is a major contributor to growing health risks including diabetes, heart disease and tooth decay. 

The change, a supplement to the FDA’s March 2014 proposal to require labels to clearly indicate the amount of added sugar in packaged foods, is based on the recommendation of scientists at the independent Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC). Last summer, UCS had mobilized more than 250 public health experts to write to the FDA not only in support of the added sugar labeling but also ask the agency to include a daily value on the label. This is a victory for consumers, for the public health community, and for science, say experts at the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS).

Below is a statement from Pallavi Phartiyal, senior analyst and program manager at the Center for Science and Democracy at UCS.

“This is how policy should work—agencies listening to scientists and relying on the best available research to make smart policies. By proposing a daily recommended limit for added sugar, the FDA is acting in the public interest.

“Nearly three-quarters of packaged foods contain added sugar, but today, there’s no way for customers to know how much of their calories they’re getting from this sugar. Americans are eating an average of 19.5 teaspoons of sugar a day, and that has a real effect on public health. The scientific evidence is overwhelming that consuming too much sugar can lead to diabetes, obesity, and heart and liver disease, conditions that affect millions of Americans. Food manufacturers have been fighting disclosure and limits on added sugar, and U.S. taxpayers are bearing the cost of the health impacts.

“Scientific and medical organizations such as the World Health Organization, American Heart Association, and UK’s Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition, all stand behind a 10% or lower daily limit on calories from added sugar. UCS will be working with our supporters and the public health community to support the public’s right to know about added sugar in their foods.

“We’re glad to see the FDA updating its proposal to reflect the scientific evidence on added sugar. This new rule, if finalized, will mark a big win for our health.”