As we have mentioned on several occasions, the food and beverage industries are on high alert regarding the Food and Drug Administration’s proposal to label added sugars on the revised Nutrition Facts label.
The latest claim? “Consumers may struggle to understand food nutrition panels that include “added sugars.”
Who is saying that? The International Food Information Council (IFIC) — a food and beverage industry front group funded by the likes of Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, McDonald’s, and General Mills — via a study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
Here is what IFIC bases that assertion on, per a Reuters article:
- “To see how consumers might interpret new labels with “added sugars,” [they] first interviewed 27 adults in Los Angeles, Baltimore and Atlanta. Consumers interpreted the new labels in a variety of ways, including some who thought the “added sugars” were in addition to “sugars” shown in the line above on the label, others who understood that it meant the manufacturer put extra sugar in the product, and some who found products with “added sugars” less desirable.”
- “Then, they surveyed 1,088 men and women to see how they currently used nutrition facts panels and find out if they could accurately interpret “added sugars” displayed in formats that might be adopted in future labels.”
- “Consumers who first viewed the label without any “added sugars” line correctly tallied the total amount of sugar in the food 92 percent of the time. When they saw a label with “added sugars” indented on a line below “sugars,” they were correct 55 percent of the time. And, if they first looked at a label with “added sugars” indented on a line below “total sugars,” 66 percent of them got it right.”
- “Even among consumers who said they frequently read food labels at the store, about 45 percent of them incorrectly identified the amount of sugar when they first looked at the label with separate lines for “sugars” and “added sugars,” the researchers report in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.”
Reuters also got input from a dietitian not affiliated with IFIC, who had a different, less industry-friendly take:
- “Consuming too much added sugar can increase the risk of obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and certain cancers.A better-designed label that made it easy for consumers to understand, for example, that a 16-oz iced tea had 9 teaspoons of added sugar, might lead people to make their own tea or drink water.”
Does industry truly believe that adding one line of information to a nutrition facts label will suddenly befuddle shoppers? Somehow, the American public manages just fine with individual lines on the Nutrition Facts label for saturated fats, trans fats, and fiber.