Nutrition Action Healthletter
September 2000 — U.S. Edition 
News from CSPI

Michael Jacobson

Send a Letter
to the FDA

How Much Sugar?  Labels Should Say

We need your help. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has asked the public whether refined (added) sugars should be included on Nutrition Facts labels.

   Why list added sugars? According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, we’re eating 30 percent more cane, beet, corn, and other added sugars than we did in 1983. And in May, the latest edition of the federal government’s “Dietary Guidelines for Americans” recognized that many consumers are eating too many sugar-rich foods. It urged people to “...limit your intake of beverages and foods that are high in added sugars.”

   Soaring sugar consumption contributes to soaring obesity rates. And, according to a study by the USDA, people who eat diets high in added sugars get less calcium, fiber, folate, vitamins (A, C, and E), zinc, magnesium, iron, and other nutrients than people whose diets contain less added sugar. They also consume fewer fruits and vegetables.

   But it’s hard to cut back when you don’t know how much you’re eating. The USDA says that people who eat a relatively healthy 2,000-calorie diet should limit themselves to about ten teaspoons of added sugars a day. Yet the average American consumes twice as much — 20 teaspoons a day.

   Last year, the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) — the consumer group that publishes Nutrition Action Healthletter — petitioned the FDA to adopt ten teaspoons (40 grams) as the Daily Value (DV) for added sugars. Food labels use DVs to tell people how much of a day’s worth of a nutrient (fat, sodium, etc.) the foods contain.

   Using 40 grams as the DV for added sugars would expose the shocking levels in many foods. For example, a cup of regular ice cream contains 60 percent of our proposed DV, a typical cup of fruit-flavored yogurt contains 70 percent, and a 12-ounce Pepsi or quarter-cup of pancake syrup contains 100 percent.

   You can bet that the food industry will try to kill sugar labeling. You can send an e-mail postcard to the FDA by clicking here or you can send a letter via the U.S. mail to: FDA, Dockets Management Branch, 5630 fishers Lane, Room 1061, Rockville, Maryland, 20852. Use “Docket No. 99P-2630” in your comments.  

Michael F. Jacobson
Executive Director
Center for Science in the Public Interest


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