CHOICE membership

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


That image shows up several times in Pinterest. One source attributes it to a high school project.


Have your say on sugar

Right now the government is consulting on ways to improve added sugar labelling. One can tell Choice
which prefferred options in relation to sugar labelling one would like to see. Any feedback on the Choice Campaign website below will will be incorporate in Choice’s submission to the government.

See the upper right side of this website:


It would be interesting to see the same for a packet of boiled lollies or caramel. Since the principal ingredient is sugar, does that result in the added sugar to be reported as zero?


The example you give is one of the obvious failures of the added sugar approach, there are others. Total sugar needs to be shown. As far as excess calories, diabetes and tooth decay go its all sugar.

We already have foods that are sweetened with fruit extracts and drinks high in fruit juice sugar, often aimed at children, labelled as ‘natural’ we should not set up rules that encourage more deception.

Canned fruit is often in ‘natural juice’ and could squeak in as having no added sugar, depending on the definition. The juice is frequently pear juice which is just as sweet as if it was sucrose syrup from cane or beet sugar. The exact sugars may be different but the main point is to deal simply with the total sugar consumption of the population not to get lost in details of sucrose vs fructose etc.

I was disappointed that so many of the Choice options refer to added sugar and the one that doesn’t (6) is not clear until you read the FAQ.


This can be overcome by classifying what added sugar is. If the definition includes all sweeteners which add calories to a product, then a lolly may have near 100% added sugar.

Maybe the word added is not the best word to use, but suspect that the general public will relate added sugar to how much sweetener is used…just like ‘adding’ sugar to a cuppa.


Thanks for the comments @syncretic. There are a few options on the table and we are listening to consumer’s views on the issue.

Currently, all labels display total sugar. We’d like this to expand to added sugars, and what we mean by that term is “monosaccharides such as glucose and disaccharides such as sucrose, added to foods and beverages by the manufacturer, cook or consumer, as well as sugars naturally present in honey, syrups, fruit juices and fruit juice concentrates.” There’s more details in our added sugar report.

Labelling isn’t going to solve all the problems of course, as no doubt many of us will still reach for the boiled lollies and caramel. However, we feel it will cut down on the confusion with products like this one, where it can be hard to determine the difference between intrinsic and added sugars.


However, we know that opinions on the issue can be wide and varied, and we welcome everyone to share their views.


After reading a few posts I presume the best of the lot is sugar. It provides a sugar hit with no added sugar. :laughing:

(+1 for total sugar on the label )


What’s inside the pack? We take a look into how sugars are being added to foods that may be considered ‘healthy’.


It’s more complicated than just considering “added sugar” though, isn’t it? There are products high in sugar, such as fruit juice, that have no added sugar, but can still cause health problems because of how they have been processed.

In the case of juice, there are various problems even if the juice is straight from the fruit with nothing added:


Yes. The whole concept of ‘added sugar’ is a red herring. The total sugar is what counts.


Don’t health and diet professionals recommend earing whole fruit, and not too much? You get the benefits of all those other vitamins and fruit fibres with only a fraction of the juice and sugars with fresh whole fruit.

Just look at how many apples or oranges you need to juice to get one glass of fruit juice, and the waste that is left behind.

So can fruit juice honestly claim more than a single health star given what is left out compared to whole fruit which should rate at least 4?


That is where we part company. I don’t see why anybody needs to determine the difference between intrinsic and added sugar, I don’t know who wants to know this or why. Can anybody tell me?


Thanks for the comments.

There’s some evidence referenced above in terms of the why. However, we’re not claiming that labelling added sugar will address all health problems or labelling issues related to the formulation of food. In the cases of lollies or fruit juice as @kushami mentioned, there will still be a need for ongoing education or perhaps an additional approach.

However, for an average person buying foods marketed as healthy such as the ‘Weight Watchers Coconut Delight’ bar we reference in the article, we think it will help. While the bars are an approved snack under the Weight Watchers weight loss program, they contain 37% sugar with invert sugar, barley malt extract and honey all contributing to this total.

Here’s another example with apricots:

We welcome the ongoing discussion and suggestions from the Community. Considering total sugar is already displayed, is this enough for you? Do you have a different idea or evidence based approach? Please add it to the thread.


Hmm, I sort of disagree on this. In an ideal world, food would be labelled ethically and clearly, but we do not live in an ideal world. Food companies are driven to make money for their shareholders, and it that means “gaming the system”, that is what will happen with any labelling scheme. We already have access to the nutrition panel, which is strongly regulated, and we need to use this to make educated decisions.

But on the other hand, there are people who would have trouble doing this: children, people with poor English skills, or people who are just tired and in a hurry at the shops. Also, many people don’t realise that only a small proportion of the labelling on a food packet is regulated.

I guess I can see both sides of the argument.


I do think the graphic you showed here would help people who might not otherwise think about what they were buying except that it “has fruit in it”. Would this type of graphic be displayed as part of the scheme?


Probably not like this graphic (although maybe that’s something to aim for?). The options being considered are:

  1. No change to labels - the status quo
  2. No change to labels - education on how to read and interpret labelling information about sugars
  3. Clearer labelling of added sugar in the ingredient list
  4. Including added sugars in the Nutrition Information Panel
  5. Warning labels for foods high in added sugar
  6. A picture on the label that shows the amount of teaspoons in the product
  7. No change to labels - digital options to access information about added sugar content.


I like options 5 and 6. There is so much room on a bottle of coke it can’t be that hard?


The most important thing is education. Then clear labelling.

There could be mandatory tear-off A5 pages hanging in the aisles were sugary food is with information about all the different names for sugar, the recommended daily intake of sugar etc. Shoppers could consult it if needed, or if they want it, they can tear the page off and keep it.