FDA Findings Help Validate IFIC Foundation Research on Added Sugars Labeling

On July 24, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced an update to its proposal to revise the iconic Nutrition Facts Panel (NFP). The proposal now includes a %DV (daily value) for added sugars. In addition to this update, the FDA also made public its consumer study on the declaration of added sugars.

More than a year ago, IFIC Foundation also conducted consumer research testing consumer comprehension of added sugars labeling. While designing and commissioning independent research, IFIC Foundation used FDA protocols to inform its survey, specifically, the nutrition profiles of labels and product types shown to consumers in testing consumer understanding of these labels.

In addition to using identical nutrition information on labels, some of the key questions asked by IFIC Foundation were also identical to those found in the FDA questionnaire. For example, the central point to the added sugars labeling discussion is assessing how labeling “Added Sugars” might affect the ability to correctly identify the total amount of sugars in a product.

Here are the IFIC Foundation data:

When asked to identify the total amount of sugars in a product, 92% were able to do so correctly when viewing the current label format where “Sugars” are listed and “Added Sugars” are not. When viewing labels with added sugars information in FDA’s proposed format, significantly fewer people got it right—55% were correct when viewing a label with “Sugars” and “Added Sugars” labeled.

Data from FDA’s recently released study confirm these findings. They also found that respondents were significantly more accurate in identifying the grams of sugars per serving using the current label compared to the proposed label (81% vs. 65%). They also found respondents were significantly more accurate in identifying the grams of sugars per container using the current label compared to the proposed label (54% vs. 36%).

IFIC Foundation research findings are published online as an Article in Press by the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. The full text can be accessed on the journal’s website here.

Full results from IFIC Foundation’s NFP and Sugars Labeling consumer research project can be viewed on the web here.

FDA consumer study results can be viewed here.

The 60-day public comment period is now open and will close on Friday, Sept. 25, 2015. You can submit comments here.