Stop Hiding Artificial Sweeteners in Our Food

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The use of artificial and low- and no- calorie sweeteners in food and beverages has surged more than 300% in the last five years.  We need full transparency from food companies now!

Once used primarily as a tabletop sweetener, alternative sweeteners are now everywhere in the food supply – things like bread, cereal, granola bars, yogurt, ice cream, milk and children’s beverages.

But it’s virtually impossible for me to know what sugar substitutes are in my food and why. That’s because the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) rules for labeling these ingredients are outdated and inadequate.

For instance, what are ingredients like Xylitol, Hydrogenated Starch Hydrolysates, Saccharin, Acesulfame Potassium, Neotame, Isomalt and Lactitol, and why are they in my food? It’s hard to tell because the FDA only requires food manufacturers to list the chemical name of these ingredients on my food labels. 

It’s also hard for me to know if products marketed as reduced sugar are actually better for me and my family because these claims are often misleading. Oftentimes, I think I’m just getting a product with less sugar, but it turns out I’m also unexpectedly getting sugar substitutes too! An even crazier example is when products such as popular brands’ “Reduced Sugar” peanut butters actually have more calories than the regular versions!

I want to know what’s in my food. I want to trust the information on food labels. That is why we need complete, clear, simple, easy to use and understand information about alternative sweeteners in our food and we need it now.

  • Require the word sweetener to be placed on food labels following the chemical name of all alternative sweeteners.
  • Clearly label sugar substitutes on the front of children’s food and beverage products.
  • Require “Sweetened With” language whenever sugar reduction claims are made on food packages.
  • Make sure claims on packages about sugar reduction are truthful and non misleading.
  • Require on-pack disclosure of potential gastrointestinal side effects from sugar alcohols and other sugar substitutes that are known to have these effects.

I urge the FDA to enact sweeping, meaningful reform of sugar substitute labeling on food packages now, so that all consumers have complete and transparent information about alternative sweeteners in their food.

Campaign for Sweetener Transparency is an initiative of the Sugar Association.  www.sugar.org/take-action