FDA Wants to Know about Sugars That Do Not Act Like “Traditional Sugars”

October 23, 2020By Riëtte van Laack & Ricardo Carvajal

As we previously reported, FDA was petitioned to exempt allulose, a monosaccharide, from being included as a carbohydrate, sugar, and added sugar in the Nutrition Facts box, as well as recognize that the number of calories for this monosaccharide is less than the 4 calories per gram used for traditional sugars.  In response, FDA issued a draft guidance, which was finalized on  Oct. 16.  The final guidance informs manufacturers that the Agency plans to exercise enforcement discretion regarding the requirement to include allulose in the amount of total sugars and added sugars, and for the use of 0.4 calories per gram of allulose when calculating calories for purposes of nutrition labeling.  However, allulose must be included in the amount of total carbohydrates.

On the same day, FDA announced that it would be issuing a request for information regarding the nutrition labeling of “sugars” (i.e., mono- and di-saccharides) that are metabolized differently than “traditional sugars,” and thus do not provide the same amount of calories per gram (traditional sugars provide 4 cal/g), do not cause an increase in blood glucose and insulin upon consumption, and are not associated with tooth decay.  FDA has received requests from industry to treat these “non-traditional” sugars, such as allulose, D-tagatose and isomaltulose differently from “traditional sugars” for purposes of nutrition labeling.  As mentioned above, FDA has decided to exercise enforcement discretion for allulose, and a petition to do the same for D-tagatose is pending.

FDA asks for information about several topics, including:

  1. General information about sugars that are metabolized differently than traditional sugars.
  2. Should the non-traditional sugars be included in total sugars and added sugars for purposes of nutrition labeling and, if yes, how should the amount be corrected for the difference in metabolic effects?
  3. Should FDA adjust the % Daily Value for “added sugars,” using the caloric value of the non-traditional sugar?
  4. Should FDA allow inclusion of the non-traditional sugars in the Nutrition Facts box similar to sugar alcohols?

The answers to these questions could carry significant implications for nutrition labeling of foods that contain non-traditional sugars, and thereby affect the formulation of such foods.

Comments may be submitted until Dec. 18, 2020.