Added sugar: New York City leads warning label efforts

Berry frappe drink with whipped cream

Kevin Butz -

Council introduces resolution calling on FDA to require restaurants to disclose added sugars upon request

New York City Council Member Keith Powers has introduced a resolution urging the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to require chain restaurants to include added sugars information in the nutrition information available to consumers upon request. The resolution addresses a critical challenge to fully implementing the Sweet Truth Act, which requires warning icons adjacent to chain restaurant menu items with more than a day’s worth of added sugars, or 50 grams, which is equivalent to twelve teaspoons.

Because the FDA currently only requires added sugars information for prepackaged foods and not restaurant menu items, the New York City rule will at first only apply to prepackaged items as well as fountain sodas and other menu items with an identical prepackaged version. Once the FDA updates its menu labelling rules to require restaurants to disclose added sugars, the warnings will be required to appear on all high sugar menu items.

The introduction of the resolution comes as the city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene holds a hearing on the proposed rule the agency issued in April aimed at implementing the first-of-its-kind legislation.

Both the resolution introduced today and the Sweet Truth Act itself were spearheaded by Council Member Powers, Council Member Lynn Schulman, and Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine. The Sweet Truth Act passed in 2023 and is scheduled to take effect in December 2024.

“It’s crucial that the FDA takes the steps needed to enable New Yorkers to know what they’re eating and drinking," Council Member Powers said. "We have seen nutrition labeling work and that’s why the City Council passed the Sweet Truth Act that I introduced last year. Consumers need accurate information in order to make informed and healthy decisions.”

"Implementing the Sweet Truth Act is a crucial step toward empowering New Yorkers with the information they need to make healthier choices," said Center for Science in the Public Interest senior policy associate Dr. DeAnna Nara. "We urge the FDA to take swift action in updating federal regulations to include added sugars information in restaurant nutrition disclosures. This alignment will not only support New York City’s local efforts, but also set a national precedent for nutrition transparency that will benefit all consumers in the United States." 

CSPI submitted comments and testimony in strong support of the agency's proposed rule to help ensure that the final regulations both maximally support public health and are practical for implementation. Overconsumption of added sugars is linked to chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and dental decay. 

In January 2022, the group petitioned FDA to require restaurants to disclose the added sugar content of their menu items and have not received a final decision.

“In New York City, chronic and diet-related diseases are the leading cause of death, highlighting the urgent need for this initiative​​,” said Nara. “We are thankful to Council Member Powers and the Health Department for their continued leadership on nutrition. They’re not just benefitting New Yorkers but paving the way for other policies with national impact.” 

#     #     #