Mars says it also backs recommendations from the World Health Organization (WHO), the US Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, and the UK Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition, that people should limit their intake of added sugars to no more than 10% of total energy intake.
Added sugars are sugars and syrups added to foods to improve sweetness, structure, texture, and shelf-life. These are distinct from sugars that are intrinsic to foods, such as lactose in dairy, or fructose and glucose in bananas.
Dave Crean, Global Head of Research & Development at Mars, Incorporated, said: “It just makes good sense."
Its move was welcomed by CSPI health promotion policy director Jim O’Hara, who noted that Mars was also “an important, if somewhat unlikely, ally in the fight to get junk food out of schools, and has one of the strongest policies when it comes to shielding kids from junk-food marketing”.
He added: “It’s refreshing to see a company like Mars showing principled leadership on this question of added sugar labeling, and we hope other companies follow its lead.”
The added sugar controversy
While Mars is not alone among food manufacturers in supporting the added sugars proposal, many big brands are firmly against it, with the Grocery Manufacturers recently acknowledging that its members are split on the issue, with the majority opposed, but a minority in favor, albeit with some caveats.
It added: “By mandating the separate labeling of added sugars, most GMA members believe that FDA is strongly implying to consumers that added sugars are indeed distinct and different from (and less healthful than) inherent sugars, when they are not. Thus, added sugar labeling may convey false and misleading information to consumers.”
The FDA - which is pondering the biggest overhaul of food labels in 20 years (click HERE) - acknowledges that biochemically, sugar is sugar - whether it occurs naturally in foods such as fruits or is added to a product such as soda.
However, it believes that highlighting the latter will “help individuals identify foods that are nutrient-dense within calorie limits and aid in reducing excess discretionary calorie intake from added sugars”.
Click HERE to read the FDA proposals.
Click HERE to read all the comments.