Focus on sugar ahead of pack labelling consultation

24 September 2020

A sugar campaign group has called for more honest labelling on “healthy” fruit snacks with high sugar contents, as it commented on the current government consultation on front of pack labelling (FOPL) in the UK.

The group Action on Sugar says there should be mandatory FOPL that reflects the latest dietary advice on sugars.

The group says certain “fruit snack” products marketed for children can contain nearly as much as five teaspoons of sugars per serving — the equivalent of eating a packet of jelly beans.

Action on Sugar is also calling for a ban on the use of claims on certain products which it says are misleading, such as “1 of your 5 a day”, “Naturally occurring sugars” or “Made from real fruit”.

The group claims many products it recently surveyed would have received a red traffic light FOPL for high sugars, meaning they are not a healthy snack choice.

The group also says, many of these products are wrongly advertised as snacks despite guidance that children should not consume these products in between meals, and that they are not permitted in schools because they are categorised as confectionery.

For example, certain processed dried fruit products are marketed as “healthy snacks” due to their high fruit content. However, the campaign group says the sugars in these products contain “free sugars” — namely purees, concentrates, juices and extruded fruit or added sugar by coating or flavouring dried fruit — all of which can contribute to obesity, Type 2 Diabetes and tooth decay.

Campaigners also argue that current labelling gives an allowance of 90g of sugars per person which is based on an adult’s intake and not a child’s.

A source at the group said, “Whilst these claims are legal they have been shown to be misleading by creating a ‘health halo’ and discouraging shoppers from scrutinising the label more thoroughly.”

The nutrition labelling consultation closes on 21 October 2020 and can be accessed at GOV.UK.