Tagatose to be classified as an added sugar when used in foods, US Food regulator rules

US – The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has ruled that tagatose — a naturally occurring but rare sugar — will need to be disclosed on product labels as Added Sugars whenever it is used as a food ingredient.

Under the revamped Nutrition Facts panel, products must report the grams of added sugars each serving of a product contains, as well as the percentage of the recommended daily intake of sugar a person will get from eating it.

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Bonumose, a sweetener manufacturer, was seeking to have the FDA exempt tagatose from the Added Sugars in an attempt to drive up its uptake in by food and beverage maker.

The company, which produces the sugar through a streamlined method using plant-based starches and enzymes,  argued that the sweetener use conflicts with the rationale behind the Added Sugars labeling.

According to research presented by Bonumose, tagatose does not increase risk for chronic disease and instead has been shown to have positive health effects.

Although the FDA agreed with the health research submitted by Bonumose, the food industry regulator noted that tagatose has too many calories to be exempted from the label designation.

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Tagatose has 1.5 calories per gram, while allulose — another rare sugar that the FDA has exempted from the Added Sugars designation — has 0.4 calories or less per gram.

“We are not prepared to amend our regulations regarding the declaration of D-tagatose on Nutrition Facts labels at this time,” FDA stated in its ruling.

The ruling could make it difficult for Bonumose to sell its new tagatose ingredient to U.S. manufacturers.

The Virginia sweetener company had scaled up its tagatose production and was prepared to produce and market it this year.

Tagatose ticked all the three areas that manufacturers look for in sugar: natural, close to the taste of sugar, and low in calories.

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It however failed in the fourth requirement as it does add to a product’s sugar load as indicated on the Nutrition Facts label. This, in addition to The requirement to be included on labels as an “Added Sugar,” give it a major blow to its use as manufacturers may be dissuaded from including it.

The decision is fair since tagatose is so similar to sugar in terms of sweetness value and structure, the number of calories added to food may not be much different.

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