Citizens for Health broadens its petition seeking labeling of fructose amounts in HFCS

Posted by
August 5, 2014

supermarket2Citizens for Health, the sponsoring organization of Food Identity Theft, has amended and broadened the scope of its 2012 petition to the Food and Drug Administration to require the labeling of specific amounts of fructose in products containing high fructose corn syrup.

The petition, which has so far received more than 10,000 favorable comments, with its only opposition coming from the Corn Refiners Association (whose members manufacture HFCS), has now been revised to include a request that companies be notified that “any product containing HFCS sweetener with more than 55% fructose is considered to be adulterated” under federal regulations and “cannot be sold in interstate commerce.”

Since the FDA now has the legal authority to order mandatory recalls, the petition filed by CFH had previously sought to have “timely, public regulatory action” taken to identify food products using sweeteners not meeting the applicable Federal definitions of “generally recognized as safe,” or GRAS, as being adulterated.

The group acted to amend and supplement its original petition in the aftermath of two recent developments.

One was the FDA’s proposed rule, posted this past March, to require a separate line item on the Nutrition Facts label for “added sugars.”  The other was a recent study that found significantly higher amounts of fructose in various beverages than the 55% currently permitted.

The latest request is also in keeping with the concerns CFH has expressed about the clandestine use of HFCS-90, an unauthorized form of the sweetener that is 90 percent fructose instead of the 55-45 fructose/glucose ratio that the FDA has approved.

Other additions to the petition included requests for:

  • the FDA’s proposed new rule to require that specific kinds of added sugars be identified on the Nutrition Facts panel– and if they include HFCS, the actual percentage of fructose it contains be listed as well. (Note to readers: the FDA term “sugars,” which includes all kinds of sweetening agents, should not be confused with with ”sugar,” which refers to sucrose, a natural substance that the FDA has ruled cannot be used to describe HFCS.)
  • a public hearing on the issue, which CFH considers” to  be of critical importance to public health.

‘Full disclosure a basic right’

In amending its petition, CFA noted that what it is merely asking for is  “transparency” regarding product ingredients. “Consumers have a right to know what is in their food, and ultimately what goes into their bodies,” the group noted. “The lead premise behind labeling is to accurately inform the consumer what is in the product they are about to consume, and secondarily, to keep the manufacturer honest about what they are putting in the product.”

It further noted that consumers “are highly savvy and have great concern about the ingredients used in their food products” and that  full disclosure of the identity of ingredients in a product is a consumer’s basic right.

To clarify why it is now requesting that the Nutrition Facts panel provide this information, CFH pointed out that “requiring a manufacturer to state the identity of an ingredient is not unique,” since the FDA “holds a similar requirement for manufacturers that use botanicals in food and supplement products.

“There are several studies and research articles that are illustrative of the debate on the role of HFCS in regards to obesity and diabetes,” it added. “Whether one agrees that HFCS plays a role in diabetes and/or obesity, or if HFCS causes larger overall weight gains, or weight gains in areas of greater danger for obesity and diabetes (the abdomen) than other sweeteners such as sucrose, the fact remains that sweeteners in general are of concern to consumers, and consumers have a right to know the nature and amounts contained in food products.  U.S. consumers want this information and it is consistent with the FDA’s mandate to compel food manufacturers to provide the public sufficiently robust label information.”

“We commend FDA’s step in the right direction to protect consumers and will file comments to that effect in the Nutrition labeling docket,” the group added.

If you haven’t yet commented on the CFH petition, you can do so by clicking here.

In our next blog, we’ll be talking about the solitary objection that’s been filed so far to the petition — the one from the Corn Refiners Association – and CFH’s response to it.