No more sugar coating the truth, CHOICE
Consumer advocacy group, CHOICE, is calling for the government to clearly label sugar on food products following the consumer group’s finding that there are 43 different names food companies use to describe added sugars.
The call follows the recommendation from the World Health Organisation (WHO) for people to limit the intake of ‘free’ or added sugars to be no more than 10% of total energy intake in order to reduce the risk of health issues such as obesity and tooth decay.
“Some added sugars are easy to identify such as brown sugar and caster sugar but others like agave nectar, high-fructose corn syrup, rapadura and molasses are not,” said CHOICE spokesperson Tom Godfrey.
“We believe that consumers have a right to know what added sugars are in their foods but currently food companies make it very hard for us to work out.”
“On food labels, the nutritional panel doesn’t differentiate between added sugar content and sugars that naturally occur in the product. So the only way for you to find out is by trying to identify these 40+ different names in the ingredients list.
“The fact is consumers should be able to identify which ingredients listed on food products are added sugars. We believe this could be achieved through a recommendation that is currently being reviewed by our food standards body,” said Mr Godfrey.
One of the key recommendations to come out of the government’s 2011 food labelling review was that where sugars are added as separate ingredients in a food, the term ‘added sugars’ be used in the ingredient list as the generic term, followed by a bracketed list with further details. For example: added sugars (fructose, glucose syrup, honey).
“To get this change across the line, we are calling on consumers to email their State food minister and tell them that they want added sugars to be clearly labelled,” said CHOICE spokesperson Mr Godfrey.
One of the recommendations from the 2011 Review of Food Labelling Law and Policy, led by Dr Neal Blewett, was that where sugars, fats and oils are added as separate ingredients in food, the term ‘added sugars’, ‘added fats’ and/or ‘added oil’ be used in the ingredient list as the generic term followed by a bracketed list. Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) is currently providing technical advice to ministers on this recommendation, and it will be voted on soon.
Chart released by CHOICE: