Consumer News

FDA Makes Sugar Count More Transparent

Tallying up added sugars wasn't easy.

Consumer News

FDA Makes Sugar Count More Transparent

Did you know that sugar goes by many names? This can be confusing when you’re just looking for the word “sugar” on a label. In fact, many manufacturers use obscure names for sugar and break them up on the label into different kinds so that they appear to be deceptively small parts of the ingredients list. This can be confusing when you’re just looking for the word “sugar” on a label.

New Nutriton Facts LabelThe FDA has approved a new nutrition facts label that must list how many grams of sugar have been added by manufacturers to the food and beverage as well as what percentage of the recommended daily maximum that represents. Nutrition labels already list the recommended maximums for fats, sodium, cholesterol and carbohydrates.

The new label will also highlight “calories” and “servings” and requires that serving sizes noted on the panel, which was first introduced more than 20 years ago, more closely reflect the amounts of food that people currently eat.

(The FDA’s proposal had prompted comedian John Oliver, host of HBO’s “Last Week Tonight,” to start a Twitter movement asking consumers to demand companies reveal how much sugar are in products by using the equivalent of circus peanuts to show the amounts using the hashtag #showusyourpeanuts. was happy to participate.)

Companies have until July 26, 2018 to comply with the new labeling rules. Until then, here are just a few terms to look for in the shopping aisle when tallying up sweeteners:

  • syrup (such as high-fructose corn syrup or brown rice syrup)
  • malt (contains maltose)
  • cane (such as evaporated cane juice or cane sugar.(The FDA in its guidance now says evaporated cane juice is a false and misleading term for sugar.)
  • caramel
  • juice
  • honey
  • molasses
  • agave nectar
  • fructose (natural sugar from fruits)
  • lactose (natural sugar from milk)
  • sucrose (common table sugar; made from fructose and glucose)
  • maltose (sugar made from grain)
  • glucose (simply sugar, product of photosynthesis)
  • dextrose (form of glucose)

Now that you are an expert at spotting names for sugar, here’s a quiz to test your knowledge. How many times is sugar listed in the following products?

1. Clif Builder’s Bar


Cliff Bar nutritional facts

2. Annie’s Friends Bunny Grahams



3. Kashi Go Lean Crunch



4. Newman’s Own Ginger-O’s



5. Luna S’mores



  1. 3: Beet Juice Concentrate, Organic Brown Rice Syrup, Organic Dried Cane Syrup
  2. 5: Organic cane sugar (2x), organic cane syrup, honey, sugar.
  3. 3: Brown rice syrup, dried cane syrup, honey.
  4. 3: Organic powdered sugar, molasses, organic sugar.
  5. 6: Organic dried cane syrup (3x), organic brown rice syrup, fructose, organic oat syrup solids

This story was originally published on 2/13/14 and updated several times. 

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