Outrage Over Maple Syrup, Honey Nutrition Labels Causes FDA to Change Its Mind
It looks like the Food and Drug Administration's plan to label ingredients such as maple syrup and honey with "added sugars” may have been derailed by all the pushback they’ve received. Outraged producers and manufacturers, as well as loyal shoppers, have argued that the FDA's new approach to highlighting added sugars on nutrition labels were misleading and could confuse consumers seeking naturally produced syrups, honey, and jams.
We previously reported that the FDA wanted to list all sugars in products such as maple syrup under the "added sugar” category, despite the fact that sugars within maple syrup are naturally occurring—producers typically don’t add additional sugar to maple syrup or honey. As part of the gradual rollout of the new Nutrition Facts label, the FDA initially hoped to highlight sugar amounts found in all foods—especially since its new federal guidelines says Americans should not consume more than 10 percent of their daily calories from added sugars.
The FDA explains that the decision to label these products with added sugars ensured that processed foods made with maple syrup or honey would also have to list added sugars, but that would mean syrups would have to carry the label, too.
But the reactions from those producing maple syrup, honey, and other naturally sweet staples were swift, particularly for those in New England, where maple syrup is an industry all its own. Since the FDA’s announcement, they’ve received more than 3,000 written public comments on their draft plan.
They've since admitted that the labeling was confusing and said the agency would be developing a revised approach for labeling maple syrup and honey, USA Today reports.
"The feedback that FDA has received is that the approach laid out in the draft guidance does not provide the clarity that the FDA intended. It is important to FDA that consumers are able to effectively use the new Nutrition Facts label to make informed, healthy dietary choices. The agency looks forward to working with stakeholders to devise a sensible solution," the FDA said.
The outrage at the FDA's proposal even extended to state officials in Vermont, where State Attorney General T.J. Donovan encouraged local citizens to directly petition the FDA. "I applaud the FDA's decision to hear Vermonters on this issue," Donovan said Tuesday. "We all agree that consumers have a right to know what is in their food, especially when it comes to their health and safety. And, we also agree that common sense is a virtue."
The FDA will continue to gradually roll out its new Nutrition Facts label over the next two years, after recently extending the deadline for food manufacturers to comply with new label requirements to January 1, 2020.