The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has proposed including a percent daily value (%DV) for added sugars on Nutrition Facts labels on packaged foods.  

The value would be based on the recommendation that the daily intake of calories from added sugars not exceed 10 percent of total calories. And, the new section would be similar to information on nutrients that has been on Nutrition Facts for decades, such as total fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, sodium, total carbohydrate, dietary fiber, calcium, and iron.

“The FDA has a responsibility to give consumers the information they need to make informed dietary decisions for themselves and their families,” says Susan Mayne, Ph.D., director of the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. “For the past decade, consumers have been advised to reduce their intake of added sugars, and the proposed percent daily value for added sugars on the Nutrition Facts label is intended to help consumers follow that advice.”

The National Confectioners Association (NCA) says it supports providing information to consumers that helps them make the choices that are right for them, but it just wants to make sure the proposed standards don’t create any unnecessary confusion for consumers.

“The highest quality of scientific evidence should be used to inform new labeling standards,” says Christopher Gindlesperger, v.p. of public affairs and communications, NCA.

Gindlesperger adds that the key to maintaining a healthy weight is balancing the calories you consume from all foods — including candy — with those you expend through physical activity and exercise.  

“The confectionery industry supports moderate intake of sugars as a source of calories,” he says. “Candy accounts for an average of just 1.2 teaspoons of added sugar per day for Americans.  Consumers understand the role that candy can play in a happy, balanced lifestyle — and they are choosing to enjoy it infrequently and in moderation.”

The proposed rule is a supplement to the March 3, 2014 proposed rule on updating the Nutrition Facts label, under which the FDA proposed that food companies include “added sugars” on the Nutrition Facts label.

But the original proposed rule did not include the declaration of the percent daily value for added sugars.

In this new decision, the FDA considered scientific data by 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) regarding added sugars.

According to the data, it is difficult to meet nutrient needs while staying within calorie requirements if one exceeds 10 percent of total calories from added sugar. The FDA used that analysis as a basis for supporting the addition of a daily value for added sugars.

The DGAC also recommended that Americans limit their added sugars intake to less than 10 percent of total calories; this and other recommendations from the DGAC, an independent advisory committee, will be considered in the development of the final 2015 Dietary Guidelines.

Other newly reviewed studies suggesting healthy dietary patterns, including lower amounts of sugar-sweetened foods and beverages, are strongly associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease.

When sugars are added to foods and beverages to sweeten them, they add calories without providing additional nutrients.

The FDA is also proposing to change the current footnote on the Nutrition Facts label to help consumers understand the percent daily value concept.

The proposed statement on the label would be shorter than the current footnote to allow for more space on the label, stating:

*The percent daily value (%DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a serving of food contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.

The FDA is seeking public comment on the proposal for 75 days. Commenting on the supplemental proposed rule begins July 27, 2015.

The agency continues to review comments received on the 2014 proposed rule and is reopening the comment period on its March 2014 proposal for 60 days to invite public comment on two consumer studies related to label formats.

It will consider comments on the original and this supplemental proposed rule before issuing a final rule. The proposed rule on serving size requirements, also issued in March 2014, is not affected by the supplemental proposed rule on the Nutrition Facts label released today.

In addition, the FDA is also releasing results of its consumer studies on the declaration of added sugars, the footnote, and the label format.

As part of the March 3, 2014 proposed rule, the FDA proposed updating the format of the Nutrition Facts panel. Though it continues to consider comments before it develops the final rule, based on comments so far and the consumer studies’ results, the FDA does not intend to pursue the alternative graphic format for the Nutrition Facts label at this time.