Understanding sweeteners on food labels


SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Food manufacturers have just over a month left to make changes to their food labels.

New FDA regulations require labels to list added sugars. This change may have some companies choosing to swap sugar altogether for artificial sweeteners.

Before anything goes in Patty Novak’s cart, she says she always takes a look at the label.

“I look at the labels to make sure how much sodium and sugar is in it, so you gotta watch for that,” Novak said.

Avid label readers may have noticed more products displaying the added sugars.

By January 1 most products should list them. Companies bringing in less than $10 million of revenue have until January of 2021 to make the change.

“Added sugars are nice to know on a label because we can understand how much of that sugar was naturally occurring in that product. Like yogurt for example, some of the sugar that we’re seeing is naturally occurring from the lactose in milk, but then other times you know they may be adding in extra sugar in there,” Amanda Lambrechts said.

As companies change their labels, registered dietitian Amanda Lambrechts says some are also making changes to their ingredients.

“Over the past few decades they’ve made more diet sodas, diet bars, other things where they’re, instead of having so much sugar in them they’re going to use a non-nutritive sweetener, or the other term would be an artificial sweetener,” Lambrechts said.

Unlike added sugars, artificial sweeteners come with little to no calories– which could make certain items more appealing to those following a healthy diet, like Novak.

“Having a lot of sugar is not good for you, could become a diabetic and I usually just try to eat fresh fruit and vegetables,” Novak said.

While artificial sweeteners won’t be listed in their own category on a food label, Lambrechts recommends looking at the ingredient list instead.

“So you’re going to be looking for terms like sacrine, sugar alcohols, aspartane, those are going to be pretty good indicators that it has some type of other sugar in it,” Lambrechts said.

Lambrechts says one isn’t better than the other, but instead focus on moderation.

“I think it’s good to have a healthy balance between the two,” Lambrechts said.

Added sugars aren’t the only changes you may have noticed on food labels.

To take a look at all the changes, click here.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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