Mars is taking steps to pre-empt the health police's next offensive.
Photograph by Graham Barclay — Bloomberg via Getty Images
By John Kell
May 8, 2015

Candy maker Mars Inc. is backing a U.S. government proposal that would include added sugars to the nutritional facts panels found on candy packaging.

The privately-owned maker of M&M’s, Wrigley’s gum and Twix and Snickers candies, also said it also supported recommendations from leading health authorities that advise people limit their intake of sugars, particularly those added to foods, to no more than 10% of total caloric intake.

“One of the most important ways we can help is by giving consumers clear information about what’s in the products we manufacture so they can make informed dietary choices,” Mars said in a statement.

The move by Mars is a savvy one as major food manufacturers and restaurant companies aim to have an increasingly open dialogue about food with consumers. Americans have migrated away from processed foods in favor of fresh fruits and vegetables and meats, and also shown increasing skepticism of established, mass-produced brands. The changing attitudes, led by the Millennial generation, has broadly changed sales trends at grocery store chains, restaurants, and food manufacturers.

Privately-held Mars is weighing in on nutritional labeling ahead of the key 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) Report. Those guidelines, which were first issued in 1980 and updated every five years, are used by nutrition educators and government agencies.

Mars, in a statement sent to the DGAC, said it was supporting added sugars labeling so consumers could understand the relationship between added and total sugars in the context of their daily caloric needs.

What exactly are added sugars? They are the sugars and syrups put in foods during preparation or processing, according to the American Heart Association, and are found in candy, cakes, cookies and soft drinks. They differ from naturally occurring sugars, which are found naturally in foods such as fruit and milk.

The more upfront conversation about sugar on the behalf of Mars is well timed, as consumers are increasingly worrying about their intake of sugar over other food ingredients.

“People are paying less attention to the basics on nutrition labels like sodium, calories, fats, and carbs, and more attention to sugar and protein,” said Darren Seifer, NPD food and beverage industry analyst, in a research report last year.

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