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Bizzare "No Added Sugar" Label on Chocolate Caramels

I noticed for sale in Big W largish packets of Whitman’s “Caramel in milk chocolate” individual sweets with the following claim blazoned in red on the front between “Whitman’s” and “Caramel” - “NO ADDED SUGAR” !!!
It attracted my attention particularly as caramel is essentially 100% sugar.
Perhaps technically it is true because you cannot add any more sugar to something which is already 100% sugar. If so then this surely must be a false claim which breaches the intent of Australian food labelling Regulations for sugar content?

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Hello @jmcrae and welcome to the community.

Thank you for the observation. Are there any other packaging details you are able to share? I’m partial to caramel creams (Werther’s original which has similar packaging). Once a year indulgence and had not noticed the Whitman’s sugar free product. I avoid that supermarket aisle for good reason.

The Whitman’s brand locally has a number of sugar free products. Assume this is the one you are referring to.

Unfortunately BigW is being a little naughty in not providing an image of the rear of the packet. There should a panel on the back that lists the ingredients. The BigW product specification tab is also lacking that information. There is also no detail as to the country of origin evident from the pack shot.

If it’s not readily apparent, Lindt and Sprüngli AG own Whitman’s brand, acquired through their ownership of US Company Russell Stover. Lindt opened a factory in Sydney Australia in 2016. But none of this had helped finding the product source or ingredients list.

A USA source suggests the product is mostly proteins plus fats, but there is no assurance it is the same for the product here. Werther’s Original do contain sugar same source.

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If the product @mark_m picked is ‘the one’, from a NZ site.

Ingredients: Sweetener (965), Milk Chocolate (32.4%) {Sweetener (965, 960), Cocoa Butter, Cocoa Mass, Milk Solids, Emulsifier (Soy Lecithin), Flavour, Salt} Bulking Agent (1200), Vegetable oil, Milk Soids, Flavour Emulsifier (Soy Lecithin), Butter, Milk, Colours (102, 110, 129, 133), Acid (330) and Preservative (211). CONTAINS MILK, SOY. MAY CONTAIN PEANUTS, TREE NUTS, EGGS AND WHEAT.

Sweetener 960 is Steviol glycosides and 965 is

image

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Thanks for that.

What has me puzzled is I can go to Woolies on line and for example Werther’s product is available. There are clear pack shots including the food/nutrition panel on the rear. Place of manufacture Germany.

Whitman’s which is a competing brand is not sold by Woolies, but us sold by BigW. Their on line listing provides minimal product info other than a front pack shot and price, for their sugar free product range.

Same retail owner - double standards Woolworths!

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Not exactly, it starts out as sugar but doesn’t necessarily remain sugar.

Caramel is made by heating sugar which makes the molecules break down and re-combine into many products. In cooking this is done under controlled conditions to get a given style of caramel not a burnt mess. The result is a complex mixture of compounds that provide the caramel flavour and the brown colour. Just what you get depends on which sugar(s) you start with, the temperature and how long you react it.

Homemade caramel contains quite a lot of unreacted sugar and so will commercial caramel sauce that is made the traditional way. In these cases the sugar (usually with dairy products added) make the caramel bulk up and thicken and the dairy promotes Maillard browning. In an industrial digester I think it would be possible to fully react the sugar and produce just caramel.

Caramel is often used just for colour where a food looks better brown than some other colour. It has been used for centuries to colour spirits such as brandy and whisky to emulated the brown colour that cask age provides.

Looking at the list of contents it seems these caramels are made from other bulking agents, coloured and flavoured with caramel flavour and other colours and artificially sweetened. It is quite possible that such a mix would be quite low in sugar and maybe has none. They declare no sugar in the list but the fact that it is labelled ‘no added sugar’ rather than ‘no sugar’ or more likely ‘100% sugar free’ is a worry. I get the feeling there is some detail we are not being told.

This is a complex question but I think the product may well be substantially, or possibly wholly, sugar free.

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Yes, there are myriad recipes on the net for ‘sugar free’ caramel sauce and caramel. Purists might argue whether it is truly caramel, but.

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