ISA statement in response to the Sugar Association’s petition to FDA regarding the labelling of low/no calorie sweeteners
Brussels, 23rd June 2020: The International Sweeteners Association (ISA) responds to the petition submitted by the Sugar Association to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regarding the labelling of low/no calorie sweeteners earlier this month.1 The ISA points out that the presence of any low/no calorie sweetener must be declared in the food’s ingredient listing. As such, there is a clear and visible means by which consumers can determine that a food contains a low/no calorie sweetener.
Importantly also, for a low/no calorie sweetener to be approved for use on the market, it must first undergo a thorough safety assessment by the competent food safety authority. The most prominent of these authorities around the world have consistently confirmed that low/no calorie sweeteners are safe for use. These include, the Joint Expert Scientific Committee on Food Additives (JECFA)2 of the United Nations Food & Agriculture Organization (FAO) and of the World Health Organization (WHO), the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA)3 and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA)4.
Their risk assessment experts establish acceptable intake levels for approved low/no calorie sweeteners – which is the amount we, including children, can consume daily in foods without an adverse health effect. The amounts of sweeteners used in food products marketed in the USA must be within acceptable limits if the sweetener is an approved food additive or must comply with FDA Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) limits for sweeteners that are GRAS. This ensures that all consumers, including children, ingest safe amounts of sweeteners.
At a time when obesity and non-communicable diseases including diabetes and dental diseases remain major global health challenges, and in light of current public health recommendations to reduce overall sugar intake, low/no calorie sweeteners can be helpful in creating healthier food environments. They provide people with a wide choice of sweet-tasting options with low or no calories, and thus can be a useful tool, when used in place of sugar and as part of a balanced diet, in helping reduce overall sugar and calorie intake, as well as in managing blood glucose levels.5 Low/no calorie sweeteners are also not fermentable by oral bacteria, which means that they do not contribute to tooth demineralisation, which is one of the reasons for tooth decay.5