Friday, May 31, 2024

Calls for clearer labelling of added sugars

Consumer group Choice is calling for the Government to recommend clear identification of added sugars on food labels, after it found 43 names used by companies to describe the sugar added to food products.

The call follows the recommendation from the World Health Organisation for people to limit the intake of ‘free’ or added sugars to be no more than 10 per cent of a person’s total energy intake, in order to reduce the risk of health issues such as obesity and tooth decay.

Choice spokesman Tom Godfrey says that while some added sugars are easy to identify, such as brown sugar and caster sugar, others, such as agave nectar, high-fructose corn syrup, rapadura and molasses, are not.

“We believe 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,” he said.

“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-plus different names in the ingredients list.

“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.”

One of the key recommendations to come out of the Labor government’s 2011 food labelling review was that where sugars are added as separate ingredients in a food, the term ‘added sugars’ should 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’re calling on consumers to email their state food minister and tell them that they want added sugars to be clearly labelled,” Mr Godfrey said.

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