Health Canada, the agency responsible for helping Canadians maintain and improve their health, proposed changes this summer to the nutrition information required on the country’s Nutrition Facts table. IDFA filed comments last week specifically to express concern about the provision that would mandate the declaration of added sugars.
Although the changes are intended to make it easier for consumers to read and understand labels and make healthy food choices, IDFA demonstrated in the comments that declaring added sugars would not help consumers and in some causes could mislead or confuse them.
“There is no scientific support for distinguishing between ‘added sugar’ and ‘naturally occurring’ sugars,” the comments said. “Because there is no chemical or physiological difference between added and inherent sugars, including added sugars on the label will not impart useful information to consumers.”
The comments also noted that Health Canada previously had stated that a declaration of added sugars may “support the misbelief that added sugars per se are nutritionally different from nutritionally occurring sugars.”
In the event that Health Canada chooses to keep the mandate, IDFA proposed a new definition of “added sugars” that would exclude any ingredients containing sugars that are used for reasons other than providing sweetness. Examples include lactose in its pure form and in dairy ingredients, concentrated fruit juices added for color and fruit purees used to add fruit flavor, not sweetness.
In closing, IDFA said enforcing the added sugars declaration would be difficult because no method exists to distinguish added sugars from total sugars. “The difficulty in determining a reasonable enforcement process is a strong argument for not moving forward with the added sugars declaration requirement,” the comments concluded.
For more information, contact Michelle Matto, IDFA’s nutrition and labeling consultant, at firstname.lastname@example.org.