To varying degrees, companies mislead the public in the interest of their bottom lines. We see it in their borderline-deceptive marketing, in front-of-box labeling practices, and in the flat-out scientific denials by corporations like Monsanto. When it comes to those with interest in the sugar industry, misleading statements and false information abound.
Gretchen Goldman is a lead analyst for the Center for Science and Democracy. She recently addressed the FDA at a public meeting on proposed rules on food labeling. Specifically, Goldman spoke in support of the FDA adding an “added sugars” label to nutrition fact panels. And following her own presentation, she stuck around to hear from those who opposed the new label, namely those with sugar interests.
“Given past efforts by sugar interests to obscure the science on sugar and health, I knew to expect some unsubstantiated claims,” writes Goldman at the Union of Concerned Scientists. “Sure enough, listening to other stakeholders provide comments, I heard statements in need of correcting.”
In her blog post, Goldman counters misleading statements made by those with the Grocery Manufacturers Association, the Sugar Association, and the Frozen Foods Institute. She points to the World Health Association, the American Heart Association, and other reputable agencies who say an added sugars label isn’t only smart, but could save lives.
While sugar interests claim that sugar doesn’t negatively impact health, nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, numerous scientific studies showcase how overconsuming sugar (which could be partially solved by beefing up sugar labels), is a major contributing factor in the risks of obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, cancer, and more.
Food manufacturers say such a requirement would require them to actually measure the sugar contents of their foods (gasp!) and keep “new records on ‘thousands of products’”, as if such record-keeping in the interest of consumer safety is a preposterous request.
Also, these sugar-interests say it shouldn’t be their responsibility, but the responsibility of consumers to make healthy decisions. Goldman points to the labeling of trans fats as evidence that industry accountability can and will help consumers make healthier choices.
“In 2003, the FDA issued a rule requiring the labeling of trans fats on the Nutrition Facts label, in response to scientific evidence of a trans fat link to heart disease. Following the enactment of this rule, the CDC observed a 58 percent decrease in blood levels of trans-fatty acids in white adults in the U.S. population.”
The FDA is accepting written statements from the public until August 1 on their proposed label changes, among those the added sugars disclosure.