FDA to take action against improperly labeled sugar free goods

By Lorraine Heller

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Sugar, Nutrition, Fda

Manufacturers that use 'sugar free' claims on their product labels
must ensure that they also include the appropriate calorie
information, said the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) this

FDA issued a guidance letter to manufacturers urging them to review their product labels as a result of finding an increased number of improperly-labeled sugar-free products. Under current regulations, foods that are marketed with label claims such as 'sugar free', 'free of sugar', 'zero sugar' or 'sugarless' and that are not low or reduced in calories must disclose that fact. Consequently, they must bear additional calorie statements or advise that the food is 'not a low calorie food', 'not a reduced calorie food', or 'not for weight control', said FDA. These disclaimers must be used each time a sugar free claim is used, and must appear "prominently and conspicuously"​ in letters that are no less than one-sixteenth of an inch in height. FDA said the measures are necessary in order to ensure that consumers receive accurate nutrient information that allows them to make informed food choices for maintaining a healthy diet. Products that qualify for sugar free claims are those that contain less that 0.5g of sugars per serving. According to the agency, these measures are part of its effort to reduce the incidence of obesity in the United States. It said it is highlighting accurate claims about the absence of sugar as a regulatory priority. FDA said it will take "appropriate action"​ if it finds improperly labeled foods that claim to be sugar free. Last week, the regulatory body issued a warning letter to one manufacturer found to be violating these labeling requirements. Oberlander Bakery's Fresh Sugar Free Assortment cookie product was found to be misbranded in terms of both its 'No Cholesterol' and its 'Sugar Free' claims. Current regulations stipulate that a food must contain less than 2g saturated fats per serving in order to make 'no cholesterol' claims, whereas Oberlander's product contained 2.5g. In addition, the product was labeled as 'sugar free' without the use of the required disclaimer. FDA warned that it "may take further action"​ if the manufacturer fails to promptly address the violation, such as seizing the products or enjoining the firm from operating. The agency requested a response from the company within 15 working days, outlining its plans for correcting the labeling. To view FDA's guidance letter to industry, click here​. To view the warning letter, click here​.

Related topics: Food labelling

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