‘Some carbs are better than others…’ Unilever, Hershey, General Mills urge FDA to look again at labeling of sugars metabolized differently than traditional sugars

The FDA – which said in spring 2019 that the rare sugar allulose does not have to be listed as added or total sugar on food labels​, prompting a surge of interest in the sweetener – went on to invite comment​ on whether other sugars that are not metabolized in the same way as traditional sugars should also be treated differently for the purposes of nutrition labeling.

In its October 2020 request for comment​​,​​ the agency noted that, “Some sugars (e.g., allulose, D-tagatose, isomaltulose) do not have all of the same effects in the body as traditional sugars… We are interested in learning more about the kinds of sugars that are metabolized differently than traditional sugars and that are used in foods, any distinct physiological effects in the body caused by those sugars, and how we should treat those sugars for purposes of food labeling.”​

Factors that might be relevant include the pH of dental plaque after consumption, caloric value, and glycemic and insulinemic response, said the agency.

Unilever: ‘Sugars metabolized differently than traditional sugars do not demonstrate consistency with the ‘empty calories’ concept associated with added sugars’

In comments submitted to the FDA​, Unilever said other sugars which are metabolized differently than traditional sugars and associated with beneficial physiological effects such as reduced dental caries risk and low or no glycemic and insulinemic impact, should be excluded from the ‘added’ and ‘total’ sugars listings, but still included as carbohydrate.

“By virtue of their physiological benefits, sugars which are metabolized differently than traditional sugars do not demonstrate consistency with the ‘empty calories’ concept associated with added sugars.”



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