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By James Hoadley, Ph.D.

Each month EAS Independent Consultants answer one question sent in by our readers. This month’s question is answered by James Hoadley, Ph.D., an expert in food and supplement labeling and content claims and long-time instructor for our popular Food and Dietary Supplement Labeling Compliance Seminar. Prior to consulting Jim was the Senior Regulatory Scientist, Nutrition at FDA’s CFSAN Office of Nutritional Products, Labeling and Dietary Supplements.

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Question: I am a smaller company that produces maple syrup and honey sold in jars. Does the 2018 Farm Bill mean I no longer have to comply with the 2016 FDA Nutrition Facts requirements for these two single-source products?

Hoadley: One of the NUTRITION FACTS changes introduced in the FDA’s 2016 revisions to nutrition labeling regulations was a new line in the Nutrition Facts for Includes __ g added sugar. When a food contains sugars, but not added sugars, then the “Includes X g added sugars” line may be omitted from the Nutrition Facts and replaced by a “Not a significant source of added sugars” footnote. The term added sugar includes both sugars that are added during the processing of foods, and sugars packaged as such; e.g., a bag of sugar or a bottle of honey would need to declare its entire sugar content as added sugar. Including the single ingredient sources of sugar as added sugar was unpopular and confusing. FDA’s rationale was that when you purchase a bag of sugar, you are going to use it to add to food, so its use is as added sugar. In the past year FDA attempted to make the added sugar declaration more palatable for producers of products like honey and maple syrup by allowing for an enforcement discretion option of footnoting the added sugars declaration with a statement such as “†All these sugars are naturally occurring in honey.” The footnote option was not enough to sugar-coat the “Includes X g added sugars” requirement in some segments of the food industry. Though your product no longer has to declare added sugar, it still needs to comply with all other requirements for Nutrition Facts. 

2018 Farm Bill. SEC. 12516. LABELING EXEMPTION FOR SINGLE INGREDIENT FOODS AND PRODUCTS.
The food labeling requirements under section 403(q) of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (21 U.S.C. 343(q)) shall not require that the nutrition facts label of any single-ingredient sugar, honey, agave, or syrup, including maple syrup, that is packaged and offered for sale as a single-ingredient food bear the declaration “Includes X g Added Sugars.”.

Congress joined in the party by placing an ‘added sugars’ section in the miscellaneous provisions of the 2018 Farm Bill. The 2018 Farm Bill has decreed that FDA shall not require any single-ingredient sugar, honey, agave, or syrup product to bear the “Includes X g added sugars” declaration in its Nutrition Facts. The Farm Bill is an omnibus bill that directs agriculture and nutrition policies; it gets renewed at 5-year intervals. The 2018 Farm Bill covers the years 2019-2023. Provisions of the 2018 Farm Bill go into effect January 1, 2019.

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