Concealment of sugar in food

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Numerous hidden sweeteners in food

According to the consumer association Bundesverband (vzbv), many manufacturers trick the sugar claims. "The information about sugar and sweeteners on product packaging often confuses consumers more than that they provide information," criticized vzbv. The current requirements for the declaration of sugar in food would give manufacturers the opportunity to disguise and hide the actual amount of sugar in their products.

“No more hide-and-seek in the list of ingredients. If it contains sugar or sweeteners, it must be clearly and understandably on the packaging, ”said Gerd Billen, vzbv board member. A nationwide market check by the consumer advice centers had shown that of the 276 products tested, almost all of them contained sugar, "including those in which consumers do not expect sweetening ingredients - such as gravy binders and meat salads," reports the vzbv. The different names of sweeteners used also lead to confusion. The vzbv determined "in addition to sugar 70 other names for sweetening and sugar-contributing ingredients." Here, a change in legislation and more control by food monitoring is urgently required, according to the consumer advocates.

Total sugar content of food not transparent "The use of different sweeteners and the total sugar content is often not transparent for consumers", since the different laws and regulations contain different definitions for sugar and offer manufacturers a lot of scope for information about the sugar and sweetener content of food, so the criticism of the vzbv. Many substances with an extremely high sugar content, such as glucose syrup or sweet whey powder, would not be listed as sugar in the list of ingredients. Due to the variety of sweeteners used, sugar is displaced from the top position in the list of ingredients and the sugar content appears to the consumer at first glance to be lower. There is an urgent need for a uniform definition in the legal texts so that consumers can estimate the real sugar content. For example, although a more comprehensive sugar definition is used in the nutritional tables, such tables have not yet been mandatory.

Introduction of a nutritional traffic light required In view of the existing weaknesses, the list of ingredients does not offer a sufficient source of information from the vzbv's point of view on the sugar content of food. Consumer advocates are in favor of introducing a nutritional traffic light that shows at a glance the colors red, yellow and green, how much sugar, fat, saturated fatty acids and salt are in food. Gerd Billen explained that nutritional information is needed as soon as possible, “which is binding for manufacturers and understandable for consumers. The nutritional traffic light can do that. ”Ideally, this should be implemented from 2016 before the introduction of the legally required nutritional tables. In addition, food surveillance must urgently check the products "increasingly for misleading nutrition-related information" and consequently punish violations.

Concealment of the sugar content in many foods As an example of concealment of the sugar content, the report of the Federal Association of Consumer Protection lists a bar with the sales description "Filled waffle (36.3 percent) and cereals (9.9 percent), coated with milk chocolate (36.8 Percent) ”. It contained 45.4 grams of sugar, but because it also contains other sweetening ingredients or ingredients that contribute to the sugar content, such as "glucose-fructose syrup, glucose syrup, caramelized sugar, maltodextrin, milk sugar, whey product, sweet whey powder, whole milk powder and skimmed milk powder" the sugar was only to be found in the ingredients list in the lower middle field. Eleven ingredients contributing to the sugar content were found in the bar by consumer advocates, with "only four of the sweetening ingredients are recognizable as sugary for consumers," reports the vzbv. (fp)

Photo credit: günther gumhold /

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Video: Robert Lustig reveals foods with loads of hidden sugar


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