For the first time, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is allowing an ingredient chemically classified as a “sugar” to not be labeled as part of the Total or Added Sugars listings on Nutrition Facts labels. In draft guidance published in April 2019, FDA announced that the low-calorie sweetener allulose does not need to be counted towards the amount of “Total Sugars” or “Added Sugars” on the new Nutrition Facts labels coming into effect January 2020 which require companies to separately list “Added Sugars” under the “Total Sugars” listed – among other changes.
Allulose is considered a “rare sugar” due to its presence in nature in very small quantities and its chemical makeup as a monosaccharide. While allulose provides the same sweet taste, texture, and other technical attributes as table sugar, it is not metabolized as energy in the body. Therefore, it provides a negligible amount of calories and does not impact blood glucose levels, thus qualifying allulose as a low-calorie sweetener. Although allulose was discovered in small amounts in nature and fruits such as figs, raisins, maple syrup and jackfruit, it can also be made from fructose as well as corn to support production scale. This is especially critical given the broad scope of applications – from sweetening baked goods while enhancing browning and crumb structure, to replacing sugar in ice cream but remaining stable in freezing conditions – and subsequent predicted demand for allulose.
The demonstrated benefits of allulose in tandem with FDA’s draft guidance on allulose labeling should help alleviate consumer confusion about the emerging sweetener and clear the runway for industry innovation. “As manufacturers considered reformulating or innovating new products in advance of the January 2020 compliance deadline for the new Nutrition Facts labels, there was confusion among industry and consumers over how to interpret the labels of products containing allulose,” remarked Robert Rankin, president of the Calorie Control Council. “Consumers looking to manage or reduce intake of Total and Added Sugars can now be assured that allulose does not count toward those listings.”
The FDA has made several major updates to the nutrition label, including changes to the nutrients that must be declared. Now, “Added Sugars” must be included separately as a subset of “Total Sugars”. According to the FDA, “Added Sugars” include “sugars that are either added during the processing of foods, or are packaged as such (e.g., a bag of table sugar), and also includes sugars from syrups and honey, and sugars from concentrated fruit or vegetable juices.” However, since allulose does not significantly impact glycemic responses, contributes far less than 4 kcal/g, and does not promote dental caries like other sugars might, FDA intends to exercise enforcement discretion with respect to the exclusion of Total Sugars and Added Sugars, including the % Daily Value (DV) declaration.
To learn more about the FDA guidance, read:
- The Federal Register (FR) announcement of FDA’s new draft guidance
- FDA’s Draft Guidance for Industry: The Declaration of Allulose and Calories from Allulose on Nutrition and Supplement Facts Labels, which includes a link to download the guidance
- FDA Allows Allulose to be Excluded from Total and Added Sugars, NOSH, May 1, 2019
- Tate & Lyle: ‘The first two things consumers look for on the Nutrition Facts panel now are calories and sugar’, Food Navigator, May 13, 2019
To learn more about allulose, read these sections of Allulose.org: