Tell FDA: Added Sugars Shouldn’t Be a Secret at Restaurants

How much added sugar is in an Aloha Pineapple Smoothie? The FDA should require Jamba Juice to say.

Consumers deserve nutrition information about the food they eat, regardless of whether it is purchased at the grocery store or a chain restaurant. The FDA wants to hear from the public on whether they support this policy. Add your name below to show your support and urge the FDA to require restaurants to disclose how much added sugar is in the food they serve!

Sign-on Statement

By signing my name, I urge the Food and Drug Administration to update its rules to require chain restaurants to declare added sugars alongside other nutrition information they are already required to publish.

As consumers, we are often presented with extremely unhealthy options when eating out, including meals that are high in added sugars. Providing information about added sugars helps to support us in making healthy dietary choices. The 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans advises individuals to limit intake of added sugars to no more than 10 percent of calories per day starting at age two and recommends children under two years of age completely avoid added sugars.

In order to follow federal advice to limit added sugars consumption, consumers must have access to added sugars information, so we can tell the difference between these and naturally occurring sugars (which are found in fruits, vegetables, and other healthy ingredients).

Even products that seem healthy can have a lot of added sugars, and companies willing to disclose this information voluntarily are few and far between. For example, customers at Smoothie King can learn that nearly half of the 86 grams of sugar in the 20-ounce “Pineapple Surf” smoothie are added sugars, because that restaurant chooses to disclose how much sugar they’ve added to boost sweetness​. But if a customer were to buy a 20-ounce “Aloha Pineapple” smoothie from Jamba Juice, they would have no way to learn what percent of the 77 grams of sugar in that beverage was added sugars, as opposed to naturally occurring sugars from blended fruit or juice.

The FDA already requires added sugars to be declared on the Nutrition Facts panel, giving consumers the ability to access added sugars information in the grocery store. But when it comes to restaurants, consumers are left to figure it out on their own. Even the most nutritionally savvy customer could not figure out the added sugars in items that contain milk, fruit juice, or other naturally occurring sources of sugar, unless the chain chooses to disclose it voluntarily.

The FDA must reconcile its guidance on added sugars for menu labeling with that of Nutrition Facts to provide consumers with consistent, transparent, and accessible nutrition information for the food they eat, regardless of whether it is purchased at the grocery store or a chain restaurant. Information about added sugars is critical for consumers to be able to follow the DGA guidance on added sugars and will help support efforts to improve the health of Americans.

Image source: Jamba