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FDA allows allulose to be excluded from sugar declaration on updated Nutrition Facts

Allulose maker says FDA’s move opens the door for the sugar substitute

This article is powered by Food Chemical News

Companies will have one less food ingredient to worry about when declaring added sugars on the new Nutrition Facts labels – allulose.

The agency issued a new guidance Wednesday (April 17) spelling out a decision to exempt allulose, a sweetener that may be used as a sugar substitute in some foods, from the total and added sugar declaration mandate on the revamped Nutrition Facts panel.

The guidance, which is scheduled for publication in the Federal Register on Thursday (April 18), says the agency plans to exercise enforcement discretion on the exclusion of allulose, specifically when the substance is used as a food ingredient.

The move represents the first time that FDA has decided to exclude a sugar from the requirement and is a part of an increased effort to push out the last remaining guidances related to the new Nutrition Facts labels ahead of the implementation deadline, said Susan Mayne, the director of FDA's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN), in comments about the change.

The decision, Mayne said, illustrates FDA’s commitment to a “flexible and science-based approach to food product labeling.”

"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,” Mayne said. “It has fewer calories, produces only negligible increases in blood glucose or insulin levels, and does not promote dental decay.”

With the January 2020 deadline for the biggest companies to adopt the new Nutrition Facts panel, FDA will be pushing out more guidances to help companies meet the new mandate, including a guidance to address the declaration of added sugars on packages and containers of honey, maple syrup and certain cranberry products, FDA said Wednesday. 

Allulose will still count towards the caloric value of the food on the label and must still be declared on the ingredient list of products. The sweetener will also continue to be listed on the nutrition panel as a carbohydrate.

However, the new guidance states that companies can use a revised, lower calorie count of 0.4 calories per gram for allulose when determining calories for the Nutrition Facts panel.

The change spells good news for industry, as it opens the door for greater use of allulose as a low-calorie sugar substitute.

Allulose, or D-psicose, is a monosaccharide that is naturally present in small amounts of wheat, fruits such as raisins and figs, and other foods, including molasses, brown sugar and maple syrup. The substance can also be synthesized from fructose.

The new FDA decision comes in response to two Citizen Petitions from industry that had requested an exclusion for allulose from the sugar declaration.

One petition came from Food Lawyers and requested that allulose counts for 0.4 calories per gram in the calorie declaration. The other petition was from Tate & Lyle and called for allulose to account for 0.2 calories per gram.

The two petitions provided evidence to support each request and FDA concluded that “the caloric contribution of allulose is very low (e.g., no more than 0.4 kcal/g) because the majority of allulose is excreted intact in the urine, and because allulose is poorly fermented in the gut.”

“We have limited evidence from human studies, using different methodologies, upon which to determine the caloric value of allulose,” the agency explained in the guidance. “Therefore, we intend to exercise enforcement discretion for the use of a caloric value of 0.4 kcal/g for allulose because, based on the range of data we have, such a caloric value would not underestimate the caloric contribution.”

Tate & Lyle welcomed the FDA decision on Wednesday and said it will clear the way for food and beverage manufacturers in the United States to “reap the full reward for products incorporating allulose.” That reward, the company said, is the ability of allulose to deliver both calorie and sugar reduction in products.

“It’s very rewarding to receive this decision and unlock the great potential that Allulose has to reduce calories in a significant way while delivering great taste and functionality,” said Abigail Storms, the company’s vice president of global strategic marketing.

Tate & Lyle was the first to commercialize allulose in 2015, but the labeling of the sweetener had been a “hurdle,” Storms said. 

“I am excited at the impact we can now make together with our customers on the reduction in sugar consumption in brands across categories in the US,” she added. “This is a breakthrough in our ability to offer consumer and customer relevant solutions in the face of today’s obesity and diabetes health crises.”

 

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