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What You Need to Know About the Fast-Approaching Sugar Label Overhaul

Food Standards Australia New Zealand has formally proposed to introduce new sugar warning labels that will change the way we shop, eat and live – here’s what you need to know.

The proposal comes after the release of research around sugar labelling – and the findings did not paint a pretty picture of the current state of nutritional marketing. Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) are encouraging reform around the labelling requirements for added sugars in our Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code. We won’t be the first to introduce sugar warning labels – back in 2016 Chile welcomed black labels placed on the front of food packages that exceed the limits for sugar, saturated fat and salt, with Israel to follow shortly after with their bold, red warning signs. The public will be encouraged to offer their own ideas for these new sugar warning labels.

FSANZ believe these signs could mark the end of hidden sugars – no longer will deceptively labelled cereals, yoghurts and breads go under the radar for sugar content. These “stop” signs will be clear, bold and in plain sight – the antithesis of hidden sugars. It also takes the guesswork out of the process, with many of us too short of time to read the tiny, misleading nutritional panels on the back of the pack – unrealistic serves, hidden added sugar content and tiny writing are just the beginning – leading to deceptive packaging to win out for many consumers.

Think about that bowl of muesli you had for brekkie – while the marketing says it’s healthy and natural, the ingredients say something else. For starters, a serve is often listed to be a couple of tablespoons – not exactly a satiating meal, right? – and with most of us actually eating a bowl of the stuff, that first morning meal can be enough to shoot us past the daily recommendation of 6 teaspoons of added sugar a day. That’s where these signs would come in – with a big, bold image on the package, we would see that this is a high-sugar product. No confusing labels or misleading nutritional information to set us up for failure, just the plain truth about the sugar content of a product.

The leader of the research, Chris Dubelaar of Deakin University, believes that while the current system in place – the voluntary health star rating – does help people make better choices, it’s not enough to get the message across. For one, it’s voluntary, meaning many food products are missing the label, and two, many are confused by how to compare products.

Dubelaar found that people are still buying unhealthy options, despite their low rating – and sometimes, unhealthy options have a high rating. Confusing, right? That’s why a clearer warning sign could be the solution – the research shows that bold, graphic warnings are more effective than simply saying or implying that a food is unhealthy.

Back in 2020, FSANZ took the following possible amendments to the Code under consideration:

  • Listing added sugars and the amount in the nutrition information panel.
  • Requiring packages to show a warning image of the amount and types of sugars in drinks.
  • Mandating the ingredients list to include all sugars-based ingredients.

Now, we’ve seen these ideas develop into a formal proposal, of which we’re likely to see come to fruition shortly – keep an eye on the code to make sure you’re up to date with any changes.

What this means for you

If you’re a consumer, you’ll have clearer labelling to look forward to, no longer having to worry about deceptive marketing of products loaded with hidden sugars. Products that have previously been a sugar minefield – think muesli, cereal and bread – will now be easy to choose from as you can see which products are sugar-laden and which are not on first glance. If you’re a business, you’ll need to keep updated with any changes to the Code to make sure you’re following packaging requirements.

If you’re struggling with a sugar addiction – and considering the current state of sugar labelling, is it any wonder so many of us are finding it hard to quit the stuff? – we’re here to help. We know it can be hard to stick to your health goals – especially when you’re trying to manage it alone. When you sign up with us, you’ll have access to clear-cut meal plans, community support and exclusive access to our sugar-free content. Here’s what’s on offer:

  1. 8 weeks of meal plans and shopping lists.
  2. 90+ member-only recipes.
  3. Community forums to share your journey.
  4. Support and guidance from the I Quit Sugar team.
  5. Exclusive content from our panel of experts.

So, if you’re ready to ditch sugar and the host of maladies that come with it, it’s not too late to join. We’d love to help you get started on your health journey. Sign up HERE today!Top of Form






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