FDA Allows Low-Calorie Sweetener to be Excluded from Sugar Counts on Food Labels

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By : Suvarna Sheth

Allulose, a popular, low-calorie sweetener will not need to be included from sugar counts on nutrition labels in the U.S., according to new guidance issued by the FDA last month.

It will be the first time a sweetener will be exempt from the total or added sugars list.

“The latest data suggests that allulose is different from other sugars in that it is not metabolized by the human body in the same way as table sugar,” states Dr. Susan Mayne, director of FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition in the guidance. “It has fewer calories, produces only negligible increases in blood glucose or insulin levels, and does not promote dental decay.”

As such, Mayne says the FDA has issued guidance stating that it will allow allulose to be excluded from the total and added sugars declarations on the Nutrition Facts and Supplement Facts labels when allulose is used as an ingredient.

She says allulose will still count towards the caloric value of the food on the label – but a revised, the lower calorie count will be used to calculate allulose’s calorie content at 0.4 calories per gram of allulose.

As with other ingredients, allulose will still be declared in the ingredient list.

The FDA is taking comments until June 17 before it releases final guidance for manufacturers to follow.

Mayne says this guidance is one of several that the FDA has already released or will soon be releasing to assist manufacturers in complying with new labeling requirements.

What is Allulose?

Allulose is a low-calorie monosaccharide sugar present in small quantities in natural products. It occurs naturally in small amounts in wheat, some fruits like figs and raisins, and a variety of other foods. It can also be manufactured.

Although it’s considered a “rare sugar” because it’s not found in many foods, chemically it’s similar to fructose, which along with glucose, makes up table sugar.

It was first identified in wheat more than 70 years ago. The sweetness of allulose is estimated to be 70% of the sweetness of sucrose.

As of 2018, major commercial food or beverage manufacturers use it as a sweetener.

“Allulose is fairly new to our market and I think there are things we still don’t fully know about this product long term,” Susan Watkins, CDE, RD tells dLife. “While it is naturally present in a few foods, people need to be aware that the form used in products as a low-calorie sweetener is typically manufactured from corn.”

She says even though 70-84% is absorbed in the G.I. tract, it is not metabolized in the body. Instead, it is released in the urine without the body using it as fuel.

Because most of allulose is not metabolized by the body, Watkins says it that makes sense that it will be excluded from food labels.

“It also has been shown to have no effect on blood glucose or insulin levels, some studies even showing positive benefits for fighting inflammation, controlling blood sugar and decreasing fatty liver, although more studies need to be done in this area,” she says.

However, Watkins says to keep in mind that it’s also a manufactured product that the body does not process, and for overall health, the ideal goal is to eat less processed foods.

She also thinks it would be a good idea for food manufacturers to add a statement to the bottom of products containing allulose so consumers can make their own choices.

Watkins says using products like allulose in small amounts, on occasion, maybe a better sugar alternative for those with diabetes, need to manage blood sugars, or those wanting something sweet but needing to control calories.

Source:

  1. The U.S. FDA. FDA In Brief: FDA allows the low-calorie sweetener allulose to be excluded from total and added sugars counts on Nutrition and Supplement Facts labels when used as an ingredient. (2019, April 17). Retrieved: https://www.fda.gov/news-events/fda-brief/fda-brief-fda-allows-low-calorie-sweetener-allulose-be-excluded-total-and-added-sugars-counts

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