Consumer group asks FDA to require sugar labeling
August 3, 1999
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) filed a petition Tuesday calling on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to require explicit labeling of added sugar in foods.
"Even the most careful consumers, consumers with nutrition degrees, can scrutinize labels and have no idea how much sugar is added and how much comes from the fruit or dairy product," said CSPI's Michael Jacobson.
The consumer group's petition also asks the FDA to set a maximum recommended daily intake for added sugars and to require food manufacturers to list the percentage of that recommended amount they provide on food labels.
The petition cites U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) figures that show a per-capita rise in sugar consumption of more than 20 percent since 1986. Much of the increase is due to greater soft drink consumption.
CSPI says the increase comes mostly in the forms of table sugar, corn sugar, corn syrup and high-fructose corn syrup.
The petition cites USDA figures showing the average American consumes 20 teaspoons of added sugars per day, twice the USDA maximum recommendation of 10 teaspoons or 40 grams per day. Teen-age boys consume an average of 34 teaspoons a day.
Charles Baker of the sugar industry said no one is suggesting people eat too much sugar. "Sugar in moderation has a place in a healthful lifestyle. We don't advocate overconsumption."
CSPI maintains that as people eat more sugar, they eat fewer fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables contain calcium, fiber, folate, vitamins and minerals, which help reduce the risk of getting certain cancers, osteoporosis and heart disease. The consumer group says more explicit labels would help people monitor their sugar intake in the same way they can now monitor fat and sodium.
Brian Sansoni of the Grocery Manufacturers of America called the petition "unnecessary" and potentially confusing. He said consumers should concentrate on eating a balanced diet and increasing physical activity.
The FDA has 180 days to respond to the petition.
Energy boosters and energy drainers
Center for Science in the Public Interest
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