By Casey Wooten
Food makers using processed fruit ingredients such as concentrates or purees got some guidance from the Food and Drug Administration on the agency’s new nutrition facts rules.
Released Jan. 4, the draft guidance is designed to help food makers determine who must comply with the new labeling rules, and how to disclose and label sugars derived from fruit and vegetable juices.
The FDA issued sweeping changes to its nutrition facts label rules in May 2016, the first overhaul in 20 years. Among other changes, the new rules will require the disclosure of the percent daily value for added sugars, and rework the serving-size requirements to reflect modern food portions.
Food makers with more than $10 million in annual sales have until July 26, 2018, to comply with the new rules. Smaller companies have an additional year.
The FDA is accepting comments on the guidance documents for 60 days after their publication in the Federal Register.
The FDA clarified that while it doesn’t consider 100 percent juice concentrates sold directly to consumers—like frozen orange juice concentrate—to be added-sugar products, juice concentrates that are used to sweeten other foods are considered added sugars and thus need to be included in the new nutrition facts category.
“Over the course of the day, small amounts of calories in sugar-sweetened foods and beverages can add up and make it difficult to balance the amount of calories expended,” the FDA said. “For these reasons, we consider foods sweetened with concentrated fruit or vegetable juices to be sugar-sweetened foods.”
The FDA also shed light on how certain processed fruit and vegetable products should be labeled.
Manufacturers use varying terms for processing and removing portions of fruit and vegetable material to make food ingredients, like puree, paste or fruit powders. Some may fall into the added-sugar category, while others may not, the FDA said.
The FDA said that if a fruit or vegetable has been processed so that it no longer contains all of the components of the whole fruit that is typically eaten—the pulp, for example—and the sugars have been concentrated, then those sugars need to be included in the added-sugar portion of the nutrition panel.
“If sugars are in excess of what would be expected from an ingredient made from 100 percent fruits or vegetables, those sugars must be declared as added sugars,” FDA said.
The guidance also delves into more specific cases in determining the added-sugar content.
The FDA said sugars present in sweet fermented beverages after the fermentation process must be declared if they meet the definition of added sugars, such as table sugar. If they contain both added sugars and naturally present sugars, then the producer can make a “reasonable approximation” of the amount of added sugars in the finished product, the FDA said.
Producers can also declare the amount of added sugars prior to fermentation and keep records to verify that amount.
The FDA also said the definition of added sugars excludes the “fruit component of fruit spreads” such as whole fruits, dried fruit, fruit purees and other processing methods where the fruit sugars have not been concentrated.
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