Consumer NZ and the New Zealand Dental Association (NZDA) are asking the government to back new rules for the labelling of added sugars in food and drinks.
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The call comes ahead of the Australia and New Zealand Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation, to be held on 24 November 2017 in Australia. Added sugar labelling will be discussed at the forum.
Consumer NZ chief executive Sue Chetwin said regulations didn’t require manufacturers to show the amount of added sugars in their products, making it difficult for consumers to know how much was in their food.
Overconsumption of sugar presents serious health risks including obesity, diabetes and tooth decay.
NZDA spokesperson on sugary drinks Dr Rob Beaglehole said high sugar diets are a huge factor in tooth decay.
“Sugar consumption simply needs to decrease and clear labelling plays a part in this. The Dental Association has been calling for an icon on drinks indicating, in teaspoons, the amount of sugar in each drink,” said Dr Beaglehole.
Ms Chetwin said there is strong consumer support for improved labelling. “Our survey research found 80% of consumers want added sugars clearly labelled in the ingredients list. The majority also think manufacturers should have to list both total and added sugars in the nutrition information panel,” she said.
The latest New Zealand Adult Nutrition Survey found the median daily intake of total sugars was 96g (24 teaspoons) for women and 120g (30 teaspoons) for men. Sucrose, or cane sugar, was the major contributor to total sugars.
World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines recommend limiting added sugar intake to no more than 6 teaspoons per day for adults, or 3 teaspoons for children.
Consumer NZ has written to the Minister of Food Safety Damien O’Connor asking him to support added sugar labelling at the forum.