The U.S. Food and Drug administration broke new ground in consumer protection when it required, more than 20 years ago, the now-familiar nutrition labels on virtually every bit of packaged food. Now, the labels are being revamped — in ways that have both benefits and downsides.
One of the most noticeable changes — and the least justifiable — would be the addition of a new sub-category: the number of grams of added sugar in the food, in addition to the existing measure of total sugar.
But why make such a change? Doctors and dietitians have declared that there is no nutritional difference between naturally occurring sugars such as fructose (in fruit juice) and the sugars that are added. All are processed the same way by the body; the only difference, some scientists have found, is when the sugar occurs in a whole, unprocessed food such as an apple.
The same isn't true, though, of the sugar in soda or that in apple juice, though the proposed labels would imply otherwise. If people want to avoid added sugar, they just need to look at the ingredients list.
For the same reason, the FDA wants packages of food that might be consumed by one person at a sitting to be relabeled as a single serving, with the total calorie count. In other words, a 20-ounce bottle of soda, which most people probably drink at a sitting, could no longer be counted as 2 1/2 servings.