Experts call for government to ban ‘misleading’ packaging on sugary fruit snacks

Leading experts are calling for tighter legislation on packaging after data reveals 65% of products contain at least two teaspoons of sugarLeading experts are calling for tighter legislation on labelling after data reveals 65% of products have the equivalent of at least two teaspoons of sugar in a single portion.

Campaign group Action on Sugar are urging the government to guarantee mandatory Front of Pack Labelling (FOPL) to reflect free sugars.

Additionally, it is calling for a ban on the use of certain claims on labels. For example, ‘one of your five a day’ and ‘made from real fruit’.

This follows new research that reveals so-called ‘healthy’ fruit snacks can contain up to five teaspoons of sugars per serving; an amount equivalent to eating a packet of jelly beans.

Tooth decay and obesity

For example, findings show 91% of products have no front of pack traffic light label. However, all claimed to be ‘healthy’. Furthermore, all of the products analysed qualify for a ‘red’ traffic light FOPL for sugars.

Additionally, dried fruit products are marketed as healthy as a result of their high fruit content. However, the sugars in these products are grouped as ‘free sugars’ by PHE, due to their concentrates, purees and juices.

All of these contribute to conditions such as tooth decay, type 2 diabetes and obesity.

Other findings include:

  • 57% of the products surveyed have more free sugars than Haribo Starmix per 100g
  • 65% had the equivalent of two teaspoons of sugar or more.

The group argue that many parents are buying processed fruit snacks under the assumption they do not contain a high level of unhealthy sugars.

Comprehensive targets

Graham MacGregor is the chairman of Action on Sugar and a professor of cardiovascular medicine at Queen Mary University of London.

‘Whilst the Government gets to grips with the current COVID-19 pandemic, it mustn’t ignore that the situation is fuelling the UK’s other pandemics,’ he says.

‘Obesity, Type 2 Diabetes and tooth decay. These are all linked to high sugar intakes which the food industry is solely responsible for.

‘It’s imperative that whichever organisation takes over from Public Health England, ensure comprehensive and compulsory reformulation targets are set across the whole of the food industry to gradually reduce the amount of sugar and excess calories in food and drink.’

Trap sugars

Dr Saul Konviser from charity Dental Wellness Trust says sugary fruit snacks are a key oral health concern.

‘These so called ‘healthy’ fruit snacks can bind and trap sugars on and around the tooth making children’s teeth more susceptible to tooth decay,’ he says.

‘Especially as they are less likely to floss or brush their teeth – which are also much thinner in density. Whilst these fruity snacks may be convenient, they are not a healthy option – nor tooth friendly.’

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