“Luo han guo”? Whaaaat?
On June 3, 2020, the Sugar Association filed a Citizen Petition for Prohibition of Misleading Labeling Sweeteners and Request for Enforcement Action. The Petition seeks FDA guidance and enforcement on what the association believes are false and misleading sugar reduction claims.
The association observes that “added sugar” labeling requirements have led food manufacturers to replace sugar with alternative sweeteners.
As a result, the association argues that the reformulated products are not understood by consumers to contain alternative sweeteners and, further, use claims that mislead consumers into believing that the reformulated products are healthier.
“Consumers deserve to know what is in their food so they can make informed decisions for themselves and their families,” said Courtney Gaine, PhD, president and chief executive officer of the Sugar Association. “These changes by the FDA will bring transparency in sweetener labeling that we know consumers want, deserve, and should expect. Consumers are confused about alternative sweeteners and want the industry to do better.”
The petition asked the FDA to issue official industry guidance on five specific requests:
Add the term “sweetener” in parentheses after the name of all non-nutritive sweeteners in the ingredient list;
Indicate the type and quantity of nonnutritive sweeteners, in mg per serving, on the front of food packages for children’s food and beverages;
Require the disclosure, “Sweetened with [name of sweetener(s)] beneath the claim for products making a sugar content claim;
Disclose the potential gastrointestinal side effects from the consumption of sugar alcohols and some sugar substitutes in foods at the lowest observed effect levels;
Ensure all sugar content claims related to sugar and sugar substitutes are truthful and non-misleading.
At Sugaright we hold transparency and the consumers’ “right to know” in high regard. Therefore, we support the intention of the petition to make it easier for consumers to make the right food decisions for themselves and for their families. Many consumers are surprised when they discover that unfamiliar names in the fine print of an ingredient label are indeed low or no calorie sweeteners instead of sugar.
We also believe the sugar industry has the responsibility to communicate honestly to their industrial customers about the environmental and health benefits of using less processed liquid sugar made from non-GMO natural cane sugar as an alternative to melting highly processed, water-white refined granulated sugar.
Sugaright stands on the side of the consumer and supports all government efforts to help families make informed and healthy decisions about their food choices. We also encourage the responsible and moderate consumption of sugar: less frequent, but always delicious!
(And by the way, “luo han guo” is another term for sugar derived from monk fruit, a non-caloric, but not as yummy, substitute for real sugar.)