WASHINGTON—The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is reconsidering its plan to label pure maple syrup as containing “added sugars.”
More than 3,000 comments were made on the FDA’s website as the maple industry rallied against the plan, which would force producers to declare “added sugars” on syrup nutritional labels even though there are none.
"The feedback that FDA has received is that the approach laid out in the draft guidance does not provide the clarity that the FDA intended. It is important to FDA that consumers are able to effectively use the new Nutrition Facts label to make informed, healthy dietary choices. The agency looks forward to working with stakeholders to devise a sensible solution," the FDA said in a statement this week.
FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb said the FDA's goal was to increase consumer awareness of the quantity of added sugars in foods. But nearly everyone agrees the label directive is misleading.
“This is simply common sense – if sugar is not added to the product, it should not need a label for ‘added sugar,'" said Senator Angus King of Maine who delivered a speech on the floor of the Senate last week against the plan. “I am glad that the FDA has recognized the difference between the policy’s original intent and the possible impact on honey and maple producers. These are multi-million dollar industries for Maine, and I hope to work with the FDA as they craft a new policy that gives consumers the facts they need without harming our pure products.”
Maple syrup producer Roger Brown of Slopeside Syrup in Richmond, Vermont, who has been a leading voice on the issue, said the FDA's response to the feedback is a good step.
"I applaud the FDA for acknowledging the relevance of the issue and the need to re-examine it," he told the Associated Press. "I am grateful that this question and this issue has been a part of a pretty broad conversation and has generated a lot of support from the maple community, from Vermonters and maple fans around the country.
The FDA said it plans to take the comments into consideration to “swiftly formulate a revised approach that makes key information available to consumers in a workable way.”
When the FDA issued its final rule to update the Nutrition Facts label, it included added sugars as one of the required nutrients to declare on the Nutrition Facts label and provided a definition of added sugars based on the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
FDA's definition of added sugars includes sugars that are either added during the processing of foods or are packaged as such (e.g., a jar of honey, container of maple syrup, or a bag of table sugar).
This definition forms the basis of the Dietary Guidelines recommendation that Americans eat no more than 10% of their daily calories from added sugars.
The guidance advised food manufacturers about FDA's intent to exercise enforcement discretion to allow the use of an obelisk symbol, “†,” on the Nutrition Facts label immediately after the added sugars percent Daily Value information on containers of pure maple syrup. But universally, industry leaders and congressional allies railed against the proposal.
“The feedback that FDA has received is that the approach laid out in the draft guidance does not provide the clarity that the FDA intended,” the agency said in a statement this week. “It is important to FDA that consumers are able to effectively use the new Nutrition Facts label to make informed, healthy dietary choices. The agency looks forward to working with stakeholders to devise a sensible solution.”