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Time for action on added sugar labelling

CHOICE and Australian Dental Association launch campaign targeting Health Ministers over added sugar labelling

9 November 2017

Consumer group CHOICE, with the support of the Australian Dental Association, has launched a national campaign encouraging consumers to demand Health Ministers across the country to include added sugar labelling on food packs.

Health Ministers are due to meet in late November to discuss possible labelling reforms after delaying a decision for six years.

"Ministers across Australia have dragged their feet on reform to deal with sugar in Australian diets for too long. We need Health Ministers to force the food industry to give Australians basic information about how much added sugar is in their food," says CHOICE spokesperson Katinka Day.

"With dental services costing Australians $9.9 billion a year, [1] our Health Ministers’ ongoing failure to act on added sugar labelling on food packs is causing a direct hit to hip pockets, and that’s not even considering the long-term health and dental impacts associated with added sugar."

"For too long, consumers have been denied basic information on 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."

"With one third of Australian children suffering from tooth decay by the age of 6 years, and added sugars being a key cause, it is important for consumers to have access to information on food labels that helps them to make healthy choices, "says Associate Professor Matt Hopcraft, CEO of the Australian Dental Association Victorian Branch.

"Australian teenagers are consuming on average 20 teaspoons of sugar per day, well above the 6 teaspoons recommended by the World Health Organisation."

The campaign will see consumers given the phone numbers for Health Ministers across the country, along with a series of talking points, to make sure the person at the end of the line knows they support added sugar labelling. The talking points include:

  • added sugar is not currently required to be labelled on food and drink products
  • right now, people can’t tell how much added sugar they are eating
  • the Australian Dietary Guidelines and World Health Organisation recommend we reduce our added sugar intake
  • Australians are exceeding the current World Health Organisation recommendations for daily intake of added sugar
  • companies make identifying sugar content unclear by using over 43 different names for added sugar on food packaging
  • added sugar increases health risks such as obesity and tooth decay
  • in 2015, total expenditure on dental services in Australia was $9.9 billion dollars, with over $5.7 billion dollars paid directly by consumers.

"Added sugar labelling has been on the table since 2011 and it’s time for Australia to catch up to countries such as the United States and Canada, and be honest and transparent with its food labelling," says Ms Day.

"Reducing your added sugar intake is near impossible if food companies are not required to provide this information on pack.

"We have also found food companies use over 43 different words for added sugar on pack.[2]

Frequent consumption of added sugars is associated with tooth decay, cavities and irreparable damage. One third of Australian six year olds experience tooth decay in their baby teeth, and 40% of kids between the ages of 12-14 experience decay in their adult teeth. [3]

To call your Health Minister ahead of the Forum on Food Regulation meeting on November 24, which will decide if added sugar will be labelled on pack, visit: campaigns.choice.com.au/added-sugar

Media Inquiries

Tom Godfrey, CHOICE Head of Media and Spokesperson - 0430 172 669 - @choice_news

Associate Professor, Matthew Hopcraft, Chief Executive Officer Australian Dental Association Victoria Branch - 0412 487 853