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Australian beverage leader responds to Fed Gov Sugar Labelling Consultation: Calls for clear identification of artificial sweeteners

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Australian beverage leader responds to Fed Gov Sugar Labelling Consultation: Calls for clear identification of artificial sweeteners

launch-admin Jan 29, 2019 0 117

Australian beverage leader responds to Fed Gov Sugar Labelling Consultation:
Calls for clear identification of artificial sweeteners

13 July 2018: Australian beverage manufacturer, Nexba Beverages strongly agrees with the Australia and New Zealand Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation that current information about sugar provided on food labels in Australia and New Zealand does not enable consumers to make informed choices in support of dietary guidelines.


Nexba Co-Founder Troy Douglas said food labels provide limited information about which foods contain added sugars and consumers are confused. A recent national consumer study found that 60 per cent of people are aligned with a naturally sugar-free ethos – saying they are either concerned or very concerned about their own and/or their family’s sugar consumption.   The research also highlighted there is poor understanding about how many spoonfuls of sugar are in the average 375ml can of soft drink.


There are nine spoonfuls of sugar in the average soft drink, according to Australia’s Department of Health, but only 3 per cent of Australian respondents correctly stated this, with estimates varying from 500 to zero.  The majority of guesses were at the lower end of the spectrum – with over half of respondents underestimating the amount.


Mr Douglas said he specifically supports the below options suggested in the report:

Option 3: Changes of statement of ingredients. This will overtly identify sugars-based ingredients so consumers can clearly and accurately  identify high-sugar foods. SugarScience says there are actually 61 names for sugar. Overtly identifying these makes the nutritional analysis of foods much easier.

Option 4: Added sugars quantified in NIP. This will only be effective if it is enhanced with added contextual information e.g. High/Medium/Low score or a traffic light system. This will then support the conceptualisation of abstract information, which research shows consumers currently struggle with.

Option 5: Advisory labels for foods high in added sugars. This is a great initiative but we must be careful not to become a ‘nanny state’ and demonise the joy of food and drink. Initiatives should focus on giving consumers as much information as possible so they can be free to make an informed and unjudged choice. Chile has recently implemented this for goods with over 10g of added sugar per 100g.  

Option 6: Pictorial labelling. For example visually displaying teaspoons of sugar. This is key as it reduces the reliance on numerical information, which is proven to be difficult to understand. What’s more this is a great tool for educating children in the consumption of sugar and – ultimately – shaping lifelong habits.  

However Mr Douglas urges the Australia and New Zealand Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation to consider two other additional variables.

1)     Beware of the Sugar-Free Smokescreen: We must focus on naturally sugar-free, not just sugar-free, as the latter runs the risk of championing a solution which has the unintended effect of creating a very unhealthy side industry of artificially sweetened products. Studies show artificial sweeteners are strongly linked to carcinogenic outcomes.


2) Encourage product innovation through a GST / tax exemption: This could be a genuine, viable solution to Australia’s diabetes and obesity epidemic. Taste and quality remain challenges in the sugar-free space and will only be overcome with the right kind of R&D and innovation efforts. GST exemptions already exist for certain food and beverage products. A GST exemption on natural and no-sugar products would allow the government to be at the vanguard of commercially supporting businesses to innovate and create Naturally Sugar Free alternatives – a potentially global economic opportunity, and world-leading health initiative.

END


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