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Name that sweetener

stocksnapper/Getty Images sugar falling off of spoon
KNOW YOUR SUGAR: The U.S. sugar industry says food labels are confusing for consumers because sugar substitute ingredients are not clearly identified.
The U.S. sugar industry petitioned FDA to clarify artificial sweetener sources on food labels.

The sugar industry has joined the truth in food labeling brigade to clarify what types of sweeteners are in our foods.

The Sugar Association last June submitted a petition to the Food and Drug Administration that seeks comprehensive reform of the labeling of sugar substitutes in foods and beverages. The petition calls for changes that will result in full transparency and put an end to confusing and misleading sweetener information on food packages.

In a nutshell, the association wants FDA to require the word “sweetener” to be placed on food labels following the chemical name of all alternative sweeteners. And when a reduced-sugar claim is made, clarify the label by adding “sweetened with.”

The use of artificial and other low- and no-calorie sweeteners in foods and beverages has increased more than 300% in the past five years, according to the Sugar Association. These ingredients can now be found in many everyday products consumers don’t expect, such as breads, cereals, granola bars, yogurt, ice cream, fruit snacks and children’s beverages.

However, it can be difficult to figure out if these ingredients are in products because the FDA only requires food companies to list the chemical names on food labels. Labels list ingredients such as xylitol, hydrogenated starch hydrolysates, saccharin, acesulfame potassium, neotame, isomalt or lactitol in the food — all sugar substitutes that are not labeled as such. Nor do consumers know what it means if a food is marketed as reduced-sugar, according to the Sugar Association. Does it mean less sugar, even when a list of sugar substitutes is given?

“The fight for artificial sweetener labeling reform will help consumers — especially parents — make informed decisions when they shop,” said Courtney Gaine, Sugar Association president and CEO, in a news release. “I urge individuals that feel the same way to join our cause and send your comments to FDA today.”

Visit the information and petition page at to learn more about the effort and sign the petition.



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