I just got off the phone. I was chatting with a buddy who lives in the USA. (I am in western Canada.) He tells me that the FDA is completely revising US label laws. In the near future, Calories will appear in big bold font on nutrition labels. And (something new), the FDA wants consumers to know how much added sugar is in the food they buy.
Maybe an ADDED SUGAR alert is a good thing. But it includes honey, which the FDA considers a sugar that consumers need alerted about. If honey roasted ham has 1% honey, the “Added Sugar” will be labeled as 1%. In the past, honey would have appeared in the list of ingredients and the calories per serving would reflect the bit of honey in the food. But the news gets worse.
Added sugar usually means ‘added by processing or manufacturing’ – therefore, fruits and vegetables are exempt, as are some sugars used in making jams, jellies, preserves, and fruit spreads. Take a look at how the new guidelines define added sugar and see what’s missing:
“The definition of added sugars includes sugars that are either added during the processing of foods, or are packaged as such, and include sugars (free, mono- and disaccharides), sugars from syrups and honey, and sugars from concentrated fruit or vegetable juices that are in excess of what would be expected from the same volume of 100 percent fruit or vegetable juice of the same type. The definition excludes fruit or vegetable juice concentrated from 100 percent fruit juice that is sold to consumers (e.g. frozen 100 percent fruit juice concentrate) as well as some sugars found in fruit and vegetable juices, jellies, jams, preserves, and fruit spreads.”
I’m sure that you noticed “honey” is not mentioned as an exempt food. But honey is not manufactured – bees make it in their hives. Honey has no added sugars, however, as things stand today, the new Nutrition Facts label would show that the “Added Sugars” in honey is 82% (the other 18% of honey is water).
I’m hoping that the new rules will be amended to exempt honey. My guess is that American beekeepers are talking to FDA rule-makers even as you read these words. But if this goes unchallenged, honey jars would need to list the natural sugars in honey as “added” sugars on every jar of honey sold. To most consumers, this would imply honey is manufactured. Consumers would think that the natural fruit (fructose) and grape (glucose) sugars coming from nectar are somehow “added” at the packing shop. And that’s just simply wrong. What do you think? Maybe I don’t have the story right – if you know more about this, weigh in with a comment or send me a note [miksha(at)shaw.ca] and I’ll add more to this blog piece.