Have your say on sugar labelling
Food companies aren’t required to label the amount of added sugar in their products. This makes it nearly impossible to follow dietary advice to reduce added sugar intake.
But this could all change. Food and Health Ministers across Australia have agreed that labelling of sugar is an issue. To fix this, they have just released 7 potential options which range from the status quo to sugar warning labels. Now they want to hear from you.
We know the food industry will try and argue for no change. They’d prefer to continue hiding the amount of sugar in their products. So if you want foods to clearly identify the amount of added sugar, get involved and have your say.
The more people who have their say on added sugar labelling, the more likely we will get an outcome that works for consumers not food companies.
Have your say at the Government’s consultation page (you’ll need to fill in answers on the Government’s consultation page). To help, we have outlined our recommendations on this page.
CHOICE wants consumers to be able to clearly identify the amount of added sugar in a product. We have three main changes we want to see;
- Show the number of teaspoons of sugar in sugar-sweetened drinks. Soft drinks and other sugar-sweetened beverages are the number one contributor to our added sugar intake. Some teenagers are consuming 38 teaspoons of added sugar per day, equivalent to the sugar in four cans of Coke. Clearly identifying the amount of teaspoons of sugar on these products would clearly identify just how much sugar they contain.
- Make it easy to spot added sugar in the ingredients list. Food companies use over 43 different words for added sugar using words such as muscovado, rapadura or barley malt extract. We want all added sugar ingredients to be grouped together in the ingredient list so that people can clearly identify the amount of sugars in a product.
- Include added sugar in the Nutritional Information Panel. Currently the Nutritional Information Panel only displays total sugar – this includes both intrinsic and added sugar. Intrinsic sugars are found in nutrient-rich foods such as milk, fruit and veggies. These foods are recommended by our dietary guidelines and are part of a healthy and balanced diet. The advice is to reduce intake of added sugar, this is the sugar added to a product by the food manufacturer. This is why we want the amount of added sugar to be identified on the Nutritional Information Panel.
- Status quo – no change
- Education on how to read and interpret labelling information about sugars
- Change the statement of ingredients to overtly identify sugars-based ingredients
- Added sugars quantified in the Nutrition Information Panel
- Advisory labels for foods high in added sugar
- Pictorial display of the amount of sugars and/or added sugars in a serving of food
- Digital linking to off label web-based information about added sugar content.
More information on these options can be found on the consultation page.
In Australia, food labels will only tell you the total sugar in a product, not the added stuff. And you can’t rely on the ingredient list because there are over 43 different names for added sugar.
It’s essential that people can easily tell the difference between foods with naturally occurring sugars, like lactose in yoghurt, and added sugars which have virtually no nutritional benefits. Currently this is almost impossible.
The World Health Organization and our Dietary Guidelines recommend we reduce our added sugar intake on the basis that overconsumption of added sugars presents serious health issues.
A CHOICE investigation found that added sugar labelling could help consumers avoid 26 teaspoons of unnecessary sugar per day – that’s up to 38 kilograms a year!
At their most recent meeting, Food Ministers renewed their commitment to improve the health of Australians. They want to help people make healthy food choices, and sugar labelling is a necessary step to achieving this.
Read the CHOICE report into added sugar labelling in Australia. Published April 2017.
Read the CHOICE investigation into added sugar. Published April 2017.
World Health Organization (WHO)
Guidelines and recommendations
Read the WHO sugars intake for adults and children guidelines.
Read the WHO urges global action to curtail consumption and health impacts of sugary drinks media release.
Read the WHO reducing free sugars intake in children and adults recommendations.