Health ministers delay identifying hidden sugar on food labels

Amanda Lyons

27/11/2017 4:25:14 PM

Ministers from the Australia and New Zealand Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation last week failed to come to a decision on whether added sugars should be more clearly and comprehensively labelled on food products.

As many as 42 different names for added sugar can appear on food labels.
As many as 42 different names for added sugar can appear on food labels.

The Australia and New Zealand Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation (the Forum) met last Friday to discuss a range of issues relating to the country’s joint food regulation system, including the labelling of different, or ‘hidden’, sugars. But, despite strong support from consumer and public health advocates, the Forum Ministers delayed their decision, pending further research and discussion.
Jane Martin, Executive Manager of the Obesity Policy Coalition, was extremely disappointed by this outcome and what she believes is a lack of support for consumers who want to make informed decisions when buying food.
‘If people are being told to push their chair back from the table by politicians like Barnaby Joyce, and the government has rejected a health levy on sugary drinks, then giving people the information they need [to make informed decisions] seems like a no-brainer,’ she told newsGP.
Consumer advocacy organisation Choice has identified 42 different names for added sugar that can appear on food labels, including ‘agave nectar’ or ‘coconut sugar’, which may sound healthier to many consumers. However, according to Martin, this perception of greater health is a myth.
‘It’s potentially misleading that people think fruit-derived sugar is healthy; it’s just as damaging to health as sugar that’s derived from sugar cane,’ she said.
Martin is particularly concerned about high amounts of added sugar in food products marketed towards children.
‘Toddlers shouldn’t be eating these high-sugar products, but parents don’t necessarily know what’s added,’ she said.
Martin believes that GPs are well placed to help individuals cut down on their sugar consumption, but also acknowledges Australia’s growing rates of obesity cannot be tackled by GPs alone and that wider change is also needed.
‘It is critical that we have a long-term strategy developed and implemented by the Federal Government to address the serious problem of overweight and obesity,’ she said. ‘We have an interpretive labelling system for packaged foods, the Health Star Rating, but this would be more effective if it was mandatory and some tweaks made, such as not treating added sugar derived from fruit as a positive ingredient.
‘Finally, [we need] funding for effective and sustained social marketing campaigns to educate the public, together with support for health professionals to encourage people to remain in a healthy weight range or to lose weight. Even a small amount would be beneficial.’

food-labels hidden-sugar overweight-and-obesity


Login to comment

Armando   28/11/2017 2:31:49 PM

Just adding that using brown sugar which is healthier to use, a semi processed pure sugar.

To mention also honey is also a better source of sweetener, as a natural product from bees.
Anything that is less processed or unprocessed food is healthier than the factory processed food products due to its multiple cocktails of harmful chemicals in it, which actually are poison to the human body.(Teratogenic and toxigenic).

Eat fresh and be simple in cooking food, then enjoy and live longer.