Petition asks FDA to crack down on added sugars, healthy labeling

February 6, 2017

According to the National Law Review, the Union of Concerned Scientists has petitioned the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to establish “disqualifying levels” of added sugars that would prohibit use of “healthy” labeling.

FDA regulations prescribe qualifying criteria for foods to bear the claim that they are “healthy”. Among other factors, a “healthy” food generally must contain 3 g or less of total fat per serving and 1 g or less of saturated fat per serving. On January 27, 2017, the FDA received a Citizen Petition from the Union of Concerned Scientists urging the agency to establish “disqualifying levels” of added sugars that would render a product ineligible to use labeling or advertising with “healthy” claims. However, the petition does not set forth a recommended “disqualifying level” for added sugars. It is unclear whether the FDA will ultimately set a “disqualifying level” for added sugars as part of its possible redefinition of the term “healthy.”

In December 2015, the FDA received a Citizen Petition requesting that the agency revisit the definition of “healthy”—which has not changed since 1994—to take into account present-day scientific understanding about the health benefits of many nutrient-dense foods. In September 2016, the FDA requested comments to help inform its decision-making as to whether the term “healthy” should be redefined. The agency is accepting comments on this issue through April 26, 2017.

National Law Review article

Union of Concerned Citizens