Big business makes its way into politics in many different ways. A recent example is how the food industry is pushing the FDA to remove the words “artificially sweetened” in jellies and jams.
Here is an overview of what exactly this proposition would do to the consumer and the benefits to the jelly and jam industry.
Who is proposing these new changes?
First things first, who is proposing these new changes to the FDA? A citizen petition submitted by the International Jelly and Preserve Association (IJPA) is behind the appeal. It says “a citizen petition”, but you will note the backers are the Jelly and Preserve Association themselves. Why is this significant? The Jelly and Preserve Association members have everything to gain from this bill. If labeling restrictions are lessened in any form, the jelly makers will benefit.
What changes are proposed?
Now we know who’s behind the petition, but what exactly are they seeking? They essentially want to remove the requirement for jellies and jams that contain artificial sweetener to be labeled as such. Instead of including the term “artificially sweetened” on the label they want to be able to use descriptors such as “reduced sugar” or “low calorie”.
“We tentatively reach this conclusion because we find that nutrient content claims, such as ‘low calorie’ or ‘reduced sugar’ ‘ better characterize the nutritional profile of the affected fruit spreads than does the term ‘artificially sweetened’.”
What they’re saying is that consumers should be able to infer from words like “low calorie” or “reduced sugar” – that their food is being artificially sweetened. However, there are a number of products that are low calorie or reduced sugar that do NOT contain artificial sweeteners.
This is reminiscent of the generic and other “natural ingredients” that is currently used on ingredients lists of products. Just like the “100% juice” claim on many juice bottles, labeling and the use of specific words can be misleading. You can view the full proposition here.
There are people who have incredible sensitivity to artificial ingredients. The removal of the “artificially sweetened” label could put these families at risk. If your child has dietary requirements that require artificial ingredients to be removed from the diet, how will you know what products to purchase? Currently that little statement is what parents rely on for information. If the law is changed without big hoopla in the media, many parents won’t even know these changes were made.
Does it concern you that food companies are trying to circumvent the laws and standards put in place to protect consumers? Do you think products should be required to maintain their labels if they contain artificial sweeteners?
If you want to take a stand against this particular labeling law, please visit the regulations.gov website and leave a comment with your concerns.