CHOICE membership

Can you identify how much sugar is added to a product?


#1

Currently the Nutritional Information Panel on the back of food labels only lists total sugars. The total amount of sugars can actually be divided into natural and added sugars. Natural sugars are those present naturally within the food (e.g. sugars in the apple in an apple pie), while added sugars are added to the product during processing (e.g. sugars added to the apple filling in an apple pie). Sugar is hidden in many every day items, for example Woolworths’ Sweet and Sour Simmer Sauce has eight teaspoons of added sugar.

I’m interested in your thoughts on added sugar labelling. In particular:

Do you think it is currently hard to identify how much sugar is added to a product?

Do you think labels should change to help people identify the amount of added sugar in a product?

What solutions would you like for food labels to better identify added sugar?


#2

I am also annoyed by the way they show sugar as an ingredient so to the first question yes to the second yes and lastly see the next paragraph for the third question.

In a single item it can be sugar, brown sugar, corn syrup, light corn syrup, dark corn syrup, fructose, invert syrup, glucose syrup, glucose, glucose powder, lactose, galactose, sucrose, dextrose, malt syrup, maltose, rice syrup and then there is Golden Syrup and Molasses. One item that my wife and I saw, after all was added up was 47g/100g of sugar and it was a supposedly a safe fruit treat for a child and every component of fruit or juice added into it had added sugar… Why can’t it be shown as a single entry then all the versions added in brackets (under current laws it would then be the largest ingredient by weight/amount).


#3

Firstly, I would be interested in how much sugar is added. This is problematic, as sugar can be under several names, despite people thinking added sugar = white cane sugar. Added sugar can be pear juice (which is quite sweet) in orange drinks etc adding to the fructose debate. Pears are as natural as oranges but this is concentrated and added purely for sweetness and usually not declared eg “100% natural fruit, no added sugar - Orange”

I don’t have problems identifying sugars (added or otherwise) as I have a good education in nutrition, and time to read labels and follow debate. A relative of mine has taken her family on a “Sugar Free” diet, to avoid added sugars, but obviously struggles to understand what has sugar; so some things are banned, like bread (however the yeast used the sugar) but hands round the milk chocolate, sauces, soft drink and biscuits. Labelling Added Sugars would help in this case as she could make a more informed decision quickly.

Solutions - not easy - total sugar (including all the -ose, lactose, fructose, glucose etc) in big numbers or star symbols, and maybe note that % or grams of this are naturally occurring in the major natural ingredient. Apple pie sugar - 3 red stars (added) and a half grey star (natural in apples) in each serve. Perhaps they should be cubes to avoid confusion with health star ratings & energy efficiency?


#4

Yes.

Yes. Current labelling could easily be modified like fats are into multiple parameters…such as embodied sugars and added sugars.

As outlined above, sugar should be split into at least two, embodied sugar and added sugar.

Care would need to be taken to ensure food manufacturers don’t find loop holes to move added sugar to embodied sugar…concentrated juices could be one that they argue its primary purpose it is not for sweeting, but for adding flavour.


#5

I am allergic to fructose, fructans and the sugar alcohols ie gum etc. I have to scan the labels of EVERY product i buy. For me it will cause long term health issues not to mention can be potentially fatal. It puts me into hypoglycemia and i lose consciousness and convulse.

A couple of handy links for people…

60 different names for sugar in processed goods:

Food additive codes (i have to avoid the 400s and 900s)

Australian food standards site

http://www.foodstandards.gov.au/code/applications/Pages/default.aspx

One quick tip re identifying sugars in labels that dont identify amounts … is that the closer the ‘sugar’ listing is to the beginning of the label list the more it makes up the product. So if its the first two or three ingredients listed… avoid !

All these hidden sugars added to a less active lifestyle re work and computers, are playing havoc with diabetes and obesity.

Btw… coke zero and diet coke advertise no sugar… u will note below both list caramel on their ingredient list lol !

Diet Coke

Motto: Always Great Taste
Nutritional Information: Many say that a can of Diet Coke actually contains somewhere between 1-4 calories, but if a serving size contains fewer than 5 calories a company is not obligated to note it in its nutritional information. Diet Coke’s nutritional information reads 0 Calories, 0g Fat, 40mg Sodium, 0g Total Carbs, 0g Protein.

Ingredients: Carbonated water, caramel color, aspartame, phosphoric acid, potassium benzonate, natural flavors, citric acid, caffeine.

Artificial sweetener: Aspartame

Coca-Cola Zero
Motto: Real Coca-Cola Taste AND Zero Calories

Nutritional Information: While the label clearly advertises this beverage as a zero calorie cola, we are not entirely certain that its minimal calorie content is simply not required to be noted in the nutritional information. Coca-Cola Zero’s nutritional information reads 0 Calories, 0g Fat, 40mg Sodium, 0g Total Carbs, 0g Protein.

Artificial sweetener: Aspartame and acesulfame potassium

Ingredients: Carbonated water, caramel color, phosphoric acid, aspartame, potassium benzonate, natural flavors, potassium citrate, acesulfame potassium, caffeine.


#6

Thanks for the reply @Khary! I’m sorry to hear about your allergies, that can’t be easy! We were amazed when we found out that there are so many names for sugar! We counted 43 so we will need to study the list you sent through to see what we missed! It certainly isn’t easy for people who are trying to identify if there is added sugar in a product.


#7

Hi @grahroll. Interestingly your suggestion of added sugar being a single entry in the ingredient list with all the versions added in brackets was the recommendation from a 2011 Food Labelling Review. It is an option being considered by Government and something that we want to push for (among other things!).


#8

added sugar should be shown along with total sugar


#10

That.

Sugar is sugar is sugar is sugar. While a label might list the proportions of each individual sugar, it should be required to include both total sugar and total added sugar.


#11

I find all our food labeling confusing, even with recent changes. Maybe the labels could show the percentage of refined sugar(s) as well as the percentage of natural occurring sugar(s)?

What I really want to see is better country of origin labeling. Not just “this product contains ingredients sourced from here and overseas”. I want to know which ingredients, what percent of the product it makes up, and exactly which country it comes from. For example, some countries have waterways that are very high in metals and toxins and I wouldn’t want to eat any fish/seafood products from them.


#12

@rvitek, thanks for your feedback.

New country of origin labelling laws were actually passed two days ago. The new labels clearly identify foods grown in or produced in Australia. They will also help you identify how much of your product is Australian through a bar chart which indicates the percentage of Australian ingredients.However the system falls short as it does not require food manufacturers to state the origin of imported ingredients. We are encouraging manufacturers to provide this information voluntarily as many consumers, like yourself value more detail. I hope that helps!


#13

I agree with these comments. Perhaps a gram equivalent in teaspoons is helpful too. Most people realise the gram content of sugar in a soft drink, but are shocked when they translate that into teaspoons. We can bring a teaspoon easily to our mind’s eye, but not a gram.


#14

I agree with much that has been said here.

I also like the teaspoon idea. People can conceive clearly and compare using this term.

My suggestion is more general.

Since energy is the basic problem in our food (as far as the obesity epidemic is concerned), why not have a new measure that people can understand more easily - teaspoon of sugar energy equivalent - the number of kilojoules in the food in terms of those you would get from a teaspoon of sugar.

You could call them tessies - (TSEE).

For instance, a bottle of red wine has the energy equivalent of 38 teaspoons of sugar, 38 tessies.


#15

If added sugar is a separate item on the nutritional panel, then the definition of added sugar needs to be lock in to ensure that unscrupulous food manufacturers don’t modify raw ingredients to reduce the perceived amount of added sugar on the labeling.

This could be done by using a percentage of sugar in a raw ingredient (say any ingredient where the raw material sugar content is above say 10%) or scientifically based percentage where the ingredient added would impact on the sweetness (in taste) of the product.

This would ensure that finely ground dried fruits for example, don’t substitute say corn syrup as the sweetening agent.


#16

Have a look at this pic from Twitter:

and the article from MSN that has the above link in it:

http://www.msn.com/en-au/health/nutrition/if-nutrition-labels-looked-like-this-your-attempts-to-quit-sugar-might-actually-work/ar-AAmtrSj?ocid=FNL-EN-AU-10-02-17[quote=“kday, post:17, topic:13293”]
that’s pretty powerful!
[/quote]

And the amount of Palm Oil used in the Nutella was huge as well.

How about a bar with each component colour labelled


#17

@grahroll that’s pretty powerful! It might be something we need to illustrate ourselves if the labels won’t tell us how much sugar is added to a product!


#18

Which they also don’t have to disclose!


#19

Before this becomes another of the “good fat versus bad fats” type of discussion, could the reason these questions are being asked be made clear in the first instance?
The role of sugar in a healthy diet needs to be explained, as do the dangers of over-consumption. Some people’s sensitivity to sugar is also significant.
Context is important in such discussions.


#20

7 posts were split to a new topic: Fructose debate


#22

Recently, a CHOICE staff member saw ‘added sugar’ listed on a nutritional panel of a food product. So much better!

1st time I've seen #addedsugar on a #foodlabel. Helpful if trying to keep track of/limit intake as per @WHO recommendations @choiceaustralia pic.twitter.com/vAmHO5RDIH

— Rachel Clemons (@_rclemons) January 17, 2017