By Susie L. Hoeller, Attorney

In his classic novel, a Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens wrote about London and Paris at the time of the French Revolution, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”

The same is true for small and medium-sized food companies today. It is the best of times in the sense that the market is no longer controlled by the publicly traded food and beverage companies and the brick and mortar retailers. American consumer demand for fresh food, organic food, healthy food, exotic imported food and e-commerce ordering has unleashed huge opportunities for entrepreneurs to enter and succeed in the food and beverage market.

However, it is increasingly difficult for smaller firms to deal with the ever-increasing regulatory and compliance burden lawmakers and regulators in Washington D.C. are imposing. Right on the heels of the massive changes in the supply chain and production of food required by the Food Safety Modernization Act; on May 20, 2016, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced several changes to the Nutrition Facts label for packaged foods.

Most food manufacturers will be required to use the new label by July 26, 2018. Manufacturers with less than $10 million in annual food sales will have an additional year to comply with the new rules.

This article discusses one of the most significant changes – the requirement to disclose information about what the FDA calls “added sugars.”

The new Nutrition Facts labels will need to disclose both “Total Sugars” and “Added Sugars” with a declaration of grams for each and a percent daily value (%DV) for “added sugars.”

According to the FDA, this new disclosure will “help consumers know how much sugar has been added to the product. It is difficult to meet nutrient needs while staying within calorie limits if you consume more than 10 percent of your total daily calories from added sugars, and this is consistent with the scientific evidence supporting the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.”

In its new “Guidance Document” the FDA generally defines “added sugars” as follows:

“The definition of added sugars includes sugars that are either added during the processing of foods, or are packaged as such, and include sugars (free, mono- and disaccharides), sugars from syrups and honey, and sugars from concentrated fruit or vegetable juices that are in excess of what would be expected from the same volume of 100 percent fruit or vegetable juice of the same type. The definition excludes fruit or vegetable juice concentrated from 100 percent fruit juice that is sold to consumers (e.g. frozen 100 percent fruit juice concentrate) as well as some sugars found in fruit and vegetable juices, jellies, jams, preserves, and fruit spreads.”

The more technical explanation for the required disclosure of total sugars and added sugars, and the manufacturing records which must be kept is contained in the Nutrition Facts Final Rule linked to the Guidance Document above.

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