Welcome to week 26 of our ongoing series about refined sugar & me in 2017. This week… well, the pound I lost last week came back, so I’m back to 16 pounds less than when I first started avoiding most added sugars and processed foods at the end of December 2016. In our ongoing science experiment here, this is also a commentary on how very quickly too many simple carbs and processed foods can mess me up: Last night I had a piece of this penne pasta bake (not a big piece; I cut it in twelfths) plus a toasted garlic hamburger bun with dinner, and this morning I woke up 1.5 lbs heavier and with a nagging headache.
You’d think after six months I’d learn, right? I probably would have been fine with one or the other, balanced out by decent eating the rest of the day, but not with both. Well, unfortunately now the food industry wants to keep it harder for us, because…
New Nutrition Labels have been postponed indefinitely
Two weeks ago in this very space I wrote about the new nutrition labels showing added sugars and more that were supposed to go into effect as of July 2018. The day after that post was published, the FDA postponed the compliance date on the new labels indefinitely. (Thanks to ellen for the heads up!)
You can read more about the postponement of these labeling requirements in a number of places, including The Washington Post, at CNBC here (which also has updates on “added fiber” discussions), at MarketWatch here, and on the FDA site here. The official FDA statement on their site reads:
On June 13, 2017, the FDA announced its intention to extend the compliance date for the Nutrition Facts Label final rules. The FDA will provide details of the extension through a Federal Register Notice at a later time.
In May 2016, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration finalized the Nutrition Facts and Supplement Facts Label and Serving Size final rules and set the compliance date for July 26, 2018, with an additional year to comply for manufacturers with annual food sales of less than $10 million. After those rules were finalized, industry and consumer groups provided the FDA with feedback regarding the compliance dates. After careful consideration, the FDA determined that additional time would provide manufacturers covered by the rule with necessary guidance from FDA, and would help them be able to complete and print updated nutrition facts panels for their products before they are expected to be in compliance.
As a result, the FDA intends to extend the compliance dates to provide the additional time for implementation. The framework for the extension will be guided by the desire to give industry more time and decrease costs, balanced with the importance of minimizing the transition period during which consumers will see both the old and the new versions of the label in the marketplace.
You may start to see some of the new nutrition labels already rolling out from companies that were in the middle of the compliance process before the postponement was announced. For instance, I noticed a couple of weeks ago that the packaging on the Clancy’s tortilla chips I buy at ALDI had changed. So, I just checked the back of the bag I bought and see that it now sports the revised nutrition labeling (as shown in the image at the top of this post).
Well, go ALDI! It’ll be interesting to see if they continue rolling out the new labels now, and I’m going to keep checking during my shopping trips there. Who knows, however, when and if large scale compliance will now be required: Apparently industry groups are pushing for the deadline to be extended all the way out to May 2021.
I find this incredibly disappointing
I was looking forward to the new nutrition labels to help make things easier for those of us looking to avoid added sugars. In the meantime, we can keep looking for various names for added sugars in ingredient lists; the higher up an added sugar is in the list, the more of it is in the product.
With some products, one way to estimate added sugars as opposed to naturally occurring sugars is by comparing an unsweetened version to its sweetened counterpart (using the same brand as far as possible). So for example: I can look at an 8 oz serving of Silk organic unsweetened soymilk and see that it contains 1g of sugar; then look at Silk organic vanilla soymilk and see that it contains 8g of sugar. This tells me that Silk has added about 7g sugar per serving to the sweetened version, or almost 2 tsp per cup.
So, that’s me this week…
This year is all about slowly figuring out my own pitfalls, it seems like, and mine may or may not be the same as yours. How are you doing on your own healthier eating plan so far — and what have you found that helps you stay on track?
Earlier installments in this series
Read the whole Refined Sugar and Me series in chronological order (or catch up on any posts you might have missed!).