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FDA Issues Guidance Applicable to Products that Include Labeling Claims about the Absence of Sugar

Constituent Update

September 4, 2007

FDA Issues Guidance Applicable to Products that Include Labeling Claims about the Absence of Sugar
Today the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued guidance to the food industry restating the food labeling regulations that apply to products that bear claims about the absence of sugar (e.g., "sugar free," "free of sugar," "zero sugar," "sugarless," etc.). FDA issued this guidance in the form of a "Dear Manufacturer Letter" to remind manufacturers that food products bearing "sugar free" type claims are required to bear additional calorie statements or advise that the food is "not a low calorie food," "not a reduced calorie food," or "not for weight control."

The letter encourages manufacturers to review product labels and ensure that foods that bear "sugar free" type claims meet each of the requirements for these claims including the placement and conspicuousness of the calorie disclaimer statement. The letter was issued because FDA has seen an increase in the use of sugar free claims on the labels of foods that do not meet the requirements for providing additional information about the caloric content of the food.

FDA will continue to notify firms when we encounter the use of "sugar free" type claims that are not consistent with FDA’s "sugar free" nutrient content claim regulations. For example, on August 29, 2007, FDA issued a "Warning Letter" to a bakery advising the firm, in part, that their "sugar free" assorted cookie product label is required to bear a calorie disclaimer statement because the product does not meet the requirements to bear a "low calorie" claim and the product does not bear a "reduced calorie" claim or other relative claim of special dietary usefulness. In the Warning Letter, FDA requested that the company share with the agency their plan for correcting the labeling violations within 15 working days. The Warning Letter can be viewed online at Oberlander Baking Co., Warning Letter (also available in PDF).

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