FDA Approves Controversial Changes to Nutrition Facts Pane

By Annie Gasparro and Mike Esterl
DJ-U.S. food regulators approved the most radical overhaul of nutrition policy in decades, putting sugar squarely in its crosshairs in an attempt to change how Americans eat and drink.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said a new nutrition-facts panel that appears on the back of all packaged food and beverages will list how many grams of sugar have been added by manufacturers and what percentage of the recommended daily maximum that represents.

The FDA’s decision to break out added sugar from the total sugar count already on packaging culminates a yearslong push by the Obama administration into stiff opposition from food and beverage companies, which say there is no difference between naturally present sugars and added sugars.

Health officials say added sugars have no nutritional value and increase overall caloric intake, helping fuel obesity and diabetes while steering Americans away from nutrient-rich foods. Until now, nutrition panels have flagged recommended maximums for fats, sodium, cholesterol and carbohydrates but not for sugar.

The new rules aimed at cracking down on the country’s sweet tooth could cause label shock for many consumers, and it is expected to deal a big blow to food and beverage makers, especially those in the soft-drink industry. A 20-ounce bottle of Coca-Cola, for instance, contains about 130% of the daily recommended maximum for added sugar.

First lady Michelle Obama will announce the changes in an annual
nutrition summit in Washington.