August 07, 2014

A consumer research study was commissioned by the International Food Information Council (IFIC) Foundation and conducted in June and July 2014 by an independent research firm, Turner Research Network of Dunwoody, GA. Key findings of this research were submitted to the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in response to their proposal to include “Added Sugars” in the Nutrition Facts Panel (NFP) on food labels. The consumer research sought to determine whether or not an 'Added Sugars' declaration on the NFP "provides clear information that is well understood by consumers and will be used appropriately in efforts to make informed dietary choices.”

On July 14th 2014, Health Canada proposed a series of changes to food labels in Canada, which includes a new line for “Added Sugars” on the Nutrition Facts table, indented under “Total Sugars”. All proposed changes are open for public consultation until September 11th, 2014. This US consumer research may prove a crucial and timely resource to assist Health Canada in developing clear and accurate nutrition information on food labels.

Key findings from the IFIC consumer research study that are relevant to Canada:

  • The proportion of consumers who can accurately identify the total amount of sugars on the label was reduced by 30% (from 92% to 66%) when an “Added Sugars” line was introduced to the NFP and indented under “Total Sugars”
  • One third (33%) of consumers incorrectly believe that the amount in the “Added Sugars” line is in addition to the amount in the “Total Sugars” line  
  • When the “Added Sugars” line is present, over half (52%) of consumers think there are more sugars in the product than it actually contains
  • More than half (56%) of consumers believe sugars in the “Added Sugars” line are different from those in the “Total Sugars” line
  • Consumer understanding of the meaning of the “Added Sugars” line varies widely; 1 in 5 were unable to describe what it meant
  • Only 43% of consumers correctly understand that added sugars contribute the same amount of calories as other types of sugars; nearly one in four (24%) believe added sugars have more calories than other sugars
  • Less than 1 in 3 (32%) consumers understand that sugars are carbohydrates

For more information: http://www.foodinsight.org/sugars-labeling-nutrition-panels

To review the Health Canada online nutrition labelling consultation: http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/label-etiquet/consultation/index-eng.php