The Hon Dr Steven Miles, MP
The Minister for Health & Minister for Ambulance Services
PO Box 48
Brisbane Qld 4001
I understand that this month there will be a meeting of Health Ministers on the labelling requirements for sugars in food and drinks.
In recent times research has increasingly shown the significance of sugar’s detrimental effect on health.
Despite our best efforts explaining this to our son, using two spoonfuls, or three, or even four of drinking chocolate in his glass of milk is not unhealthy because he doesn’t understand from the labelling how much sugar he is consuming. It needs to be clear and understandable so even children can see and understand what they are consuming.
To me, the current situation with sugar is reminiscent of the tobacco industry’s fight years ago to deny and suppress the existence of any detrimental effects of their product. Isn’t it better to look at the science showing how damaging sugar can be to your constituents, instead of listening to food industry lobbyists who want to deny there is any problem with their products and place the blame onto consumers; just as the tobacco lobby did.
We do not want our boy to be able to make informed choices on how much sugar he has in his diet. To do this we need improved labelling to show:
• How much sugar has been added in the ‘nutrition information panel’, and
• Clearly identify all forms of sugars and artificial sweeteners in the ingredients panel,
• Clearly identify the calories/joules (or some other indicator) contributed by sugar,
• Pictograms showing how many teaspoons of sugar there are in the product on the front label, and
• Health warnings on foods with excessive sugars.
In your role as my Minister for HEALTH, I hope you make the right choice based on the science and place the health of Australians first and foremost.
I look forward to hearing the outcome of your meeting with the other Ministers.