A petition asking the US Food and Drug Administration to determine safe levels of added sweeteners in beverages received a significant amount of coverage in print and online. Many sources point to research suggesting a link between dietary sugar and various health problems, such as obesity and diabetes. USA Today (2/13, Hellmich, 1.71M) reports, "The Center for Science in the Public Interest" has "filed a petition...with the" FDA "urging the agency to identify a safe level for added sugars in beverages." This "petition is supported by a letter signed by 41 nutrition scientists and physicians and the public health departments of 10 major cities including Boston, Los Angeles, Philadelphia and Seattle." USA Today adds, "Tamara Ward, a spokeswoman for the FDA, says when a petition is filed, the agency reviews it and responds directly to the petitioner."
The New York Times (2/14, Strom, Subscription Publication, 1.68M) reports that additionally, "the center is...asking the agency to set voluntary limits on sweeteners in packaged goods, like cereals and snacks, and to mount an educational campaign to help consumers reduce added sugars in their diet." The "public health officials in the cities that signed the petition said they did so out of concerns that obesity was contributing to rising rates of health problems like high blood pressure, diabetes and even gout, all of which are increasing among the populations they serve."
The Los Angeles Times (2/14, Lopez, 692K) reports, "'In the past 10 years or so, researchers have done a variety of experiments and studies that connect soft drinks to obesity' and other health problems, said Michael F. Jacobson, executive director of the consumer group." According to Jacobson, "The science is now very strong." Additionally, "Jacobson said current levels of high-fructose corn syrup are unsafe for daily consumption, which is why his group is calling for the FDA to study the matter."
The Los Angeles Times (2/13, MacVean, 692K) "Booster Shots" blog reports that "the request to the FDA is one way to fight back against the 'ubiquitous marketing and heavy consumption' of sugar-sweetened beverages...Jacobson, said at a news conference in Washington."
The Boston Globe (2/14, Kotz, 250K) reports, "The FDA was urged by the Institute of Medicine in 2010 to regulate the amount of sodium in foods to help Americans control hypertension and heart failure." The FDA "has not acted on that request, but it did institute new labeling requirements for heart-damaging trans fatty acids in 2006, in part because of a petition from the Center for Science in the Public Interest urging such action, according to FDA spokeswoman Shelly Burgess." Burgess "confirmed that the latest petition was received and would be reviewed by FDA officials, but added that the FDA was not aware of any evidence highlighting added safety risks from high fructose corn syrup compared with other sugars such as honey, table sugar, or molasses."
On its website, CBS News (2/14, Castillo) reports, "CSPI is claiming that contrary to the requirements to be GRAS [generally recognized as safe] substance, scientists are alarmed and consider the level of sugar in sugary drinks to be unsafe." While "the petition does not say what the level of sugar in sweetened drinks should be...several health agencies have proposes that 2.5 teaspoons (about 10 grams) is acceptable." The Boston Globe (2/14, Kotz, 250K) "Daily Dose" blog and the Chicago Tribune (2/14, Eng, 450K) also cover the story.