The quest for a kinder, healthier food marketplace continues. This time, candy-maker Mars is getting in on the act, supporting a federal measure that would require added sugar content to be labeled on packaging.
The company's gesture comes in the context of recommendations from multiple health experts and agencies, all suggesting limited sugar 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," according to a Mars statement. "To make it easier for people to track the amount of added sugars in their diets, Mars is declaring its full support for a US Government proposal to include an added sugars declaration in the Nutrition Facts panel on packaging."
Manufacturer of popular candies like M&Ms and Snickers, Mars's new position may appear surprising. But amid a trend of more health-conscious food suppliers, even chocolate-makers may be feeling the pulse of a public that's increasingly holding restaurants and manufacturers to higher standards.
"It might appear to be counterintuitive, but if you dig down a bit more, we know candy itself is not a diet," said Dave Crean, Mars global head of research and development, per The Wall Street Journal. "It shouldn't be consumed too often, and having transparency of how much it should be consumed is actually quite helpful to consumers."
And apparently, Mars aims to help.
"It's not the entire answer to the public health issue, but it is a monumental change for the industry," Crean added.
Indeed, it could be an important step, given the government's traditional silence on sugar. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has yet to recommend a specific consumption level for sugar, and, according to The Wall Street Journal, many critics of the status quo blame pressure from companies aiming to protect their sugary products.
Mars appears to have separated itself from that pack.
"The FDA appreciates the support and engagement of Mars and other companies in the important effort to reduce added sugar in the American diet," the FDA noted in a statement.
Excessive sugar consumption has been linked to obesity, type 2 diabetes and other health problems. The US Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee has recommended that sugar account for less than 10 percent of an individual's daily caloric intake.