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Food Rulemaking that Just isn’t Digestible

October 20, 2015

By William Tatum, Director, Health and Nutrition Policy, Federal Affairs

GMA and others have raised strong concerns about a proposal made in July by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) which included two pieces of labeling information about added sugars: a daily reference value (DRV) and a requirement to declare the percent daily value (DV.)

DRVs are reference values for nutrient intakes and assist consumers in interpreting information about the amount of nutrients present in their food. The percent daily value, which is based on a 2,000-calorie diet for healthy adults, is a guide to the amount of nutrients in one serving of food and can be used when comparing nutritional information between food products.

The latest proposal follows two proposed rules by the FDA to update the Nutrition Facts label – a tool that helps consumers make informed food choices. If adopted, some of the proposed changes include updated serving size requirements, new labeling requirements for certain package sizes and a refreshed design.

Why is this added sugars proposal so concerning? The additional %DV declaration for added sugars is based on information and findings from the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC), a 14-member key advisory committee that provided the report used by the Federal Government as the basis for policy recommendations for the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA).   The technical report, which is supposed to be advisory only, is not intended to be used in the development of rulemaking.

Why is GMA calling into question the application of the 2015 DGAC report?    FDA has a longstanding history of relying on the Institute of Medicine (IOM) to develop Dietary Reference Intakes (DRI).  The IOM has defined the type and strength of supporting evidence required to derive these intake values.  The data presented in the 2015 DGAC report, while instructive, are unlikely to constitute sufficient evidence to support the development of a reference value.  GMA has objected to the use of the DGAC report as the basis for some of the proposed regulatory changes.

During the House Agriculture Committee hearing on Dietary Guidelines, many Members of Congress expressed serious concerns with the methodology and scientific evidence used by the 2015 DGAC to develop their technical report.

GMA believes, that to be truly effective, regulations and nutrition labeling practices must remain grounded in sound science concerning nutrition and diet/health relationships and proposals must supported by rigorous consumer research. Changes to the nutrition facts label should be driven by evidence not solely from advisory committee recommendations.

GMA recommends that any re-evaluation of added sugar intake recommendations be done through the IOM process. GMA believes that such adherence helps assure that proposed regulatory changes of this kind have the benefit of an appropriately comprehensive review of the available science.


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