Chewing gum and informed consumer choices
Providing lots of information on a very small package
ICGA and its members are committed to providing the information that consumers want and need to make informed choices. As a product that is universally regulated as “food,” chewing gum must – and in ICGA’s view, should – be clearly labeled with information that consumers need to choose the appropriate product to meet their individual needs and preferences. Accordingly, all chewing gum labels bear information about product identity, flavor attributes, manufacturer, quantity of contents, and ingredients. Where nutrition information is required, this information also is provided, all in the very limited labeling space available on a chewing gum package.
In order to meet consumer needs and regulatory requirements, ICGA advocates harmonized labeling requirements for chewing gum packages that take into consideration the amount of space available for labeling, as well as the unique attributes of chewing gum that make it different from other foods. This is particularly important with respect to nutrition labeling.
First, ICGA believes that all nutrition information for chewing gum should be provided on a “per piece” basis. Nutrition labeling regulations requiring reporting of nutrition information on a 100-gram basis, for example, mean that such information would relate to consumption of 30 to 50 pieces of chewing gum – information that would be meaningless to the consumer. If the information is reported on the basis of an individual piece, a consumer may quickly calculate the relevant information based on his or her own typical consumption.
Second, and just as important, where nutrition information is required, ICGA seeks flexibility to provide only the information that is relevant to the consumer. It is well established that chewing gum’s contribution of nutrients and energy to the overall diet typically is limited, particularly with respect to sugar-free gum, due to its relatively small serving size and unique make up of non-nutritive ingredients that are not ingested. To require extensive nutrition disclosures of nutrients not typically present in chewing gum places a significant burden on the industry, while providing consumers with no added benefit. Indeed, most of the nutrient values disclosed on a typical nutrition label for chewing gum are accompanied by a “0”. Accordingly, to the extent that nutrition information is required, the requirements should be abbreviated, mandating disclosure of energy and the nutrients actually present at a significant amount level in chewing gum.