CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY SCIENTISTS ANNOUNCE DETAILS OF GROUNDBREAKING FREE SUGARS STANDARDS
In 2015 the World Health Organisation published research that stated people should get no more than 5% of their energy intake from free sugars. Until now there has been no means for the public to distinguish between free and naturally occurring sugars in food.
Rend Platings, a concerned mother, proposed a new certification label, called Sugarwise to empower consumers to take control of their free sugar intake. Tesco played a major role in backing the certification by advising on compliance with European Union regulations for food and drink packaging and also supported development of the certification’s logo.
On Friday 11th March Cambridge scientists presented the new system that offers consumers a means for identifying foods low in free sugars, making it one of the most important breakthroughs in our fight against the negative health effects associated with high sugar intake.
- Certification aligned with World Health Organisation’s (WHO) recommendations on free sugar consumption gives consumers clear information enabling them to regulate their intake to prevent potential health problems.
- Certification based on accredited and authoritative assessment provides purchasers confidence in knowing that the products displaying the mark genuinely meet the WHO recommendations.
- An instantly recognisable mark that enables manufacturers to demonstrate the conformance of their products to WHO recommendations.
- Authoritative advice that helps manufacturers develop new products or modify existing products to conform with WHO recommendations on free sugar content.
Vinicius Ferreira, Cambridge University: “We have to start drawing a distinction between free sugars and non-free sugars, because free sugar content, rather than the total sugar content currently displayed in nutritional labels, is the critical measure of the quality of a food’s nutritional profile. Foods high in free sugar are almost universally deficient in other nutrients and fibre, and when the population starts getting a large proportion of their daily calories from foods high in free sugar, they fail to meet their daily requirements for nutrients and fiber.
Moreover, foods high in free sugar are typically digested faster and lead to more frequent feelings of hunger. To get the most ‘nutritional bang for your buck’ Sugarwise promotes consumption of foods low in free sugars, and, to cut through the noise and misinformation regarding sugars, me and my scientific colleagues have developed a new ‘Sugarwise’ standard to evaluate foods. Foods that meet our criteria will carry our Sugarwise brand, which will enable consumers to easily and quickly identify products that are truly ‘Sugarwise'”
Dr Tom Simmons: “Free sugars are accompanied by less fibre and other nutrients that can be found in the whole food. Therefore, they are less likely to suppress appetite and consequently people who consume a diet high in free sugars are more likely to consume too many calories and gain weight. The World Health Organization’s recommendation to lower free sugars intake to 5% or less of total calories is to reduce the incidence of non communicable diseases. There is a strong correlation of free sugars intake with dental diseases such as tooth decay and also heart disease and diabetes. We still have to be aware of salt, fat and total sugars but free sugars are the big food issue of our time. They are arguably the most important issue where there is the largest potential to positively impact health by changing the free sugars profiles of our foods, especially if these changes can be made in the manufacturing process.
Not only is it arguably the most important issue and largest challenge facing us today, but current food labels do not reveal free sugars. Sugarwise gives you information that you are not currently told, in traffic lights or on food labels, and guides you to products that are definitely within the recommended guidelines for free sugars”
Rend Platings, Sugarwise Founder, said: “I was shocked to hear my daughter’s generation may live a shorter life than their parents. It’s not that we don’t know about the dangers of sugar, we do; the problem relates to our lack of access to healthier choices. I am hoping that Sugarwise will have the potential to change things in the same way Fairtrade and Organic labels have – both have successfully driven up demand and availability of products in their categories. We would all benefit if the same was the case for low free sugar products.”
NEW SUGARWISE CERTIFICATION OFFERS THE ONLY WAY FOR CONSUMERS TO IDENTIFY LOW FREE SUGAR CONTENT IN FOOD
Billed as “sugar’s equivalent of the Fairtrade marque”… with the “potential to become just as big” [the Grocer – February 2016]
Sugarwise is the certification scheme for truly no added sugar products. There’s new guidance on the different types of sugar we should and shouldn’t eat but nothing on our food labels. The scheme works with manufacturers to promote products low in free sugars, and similar to Fairtrade, Rainforest Alliance, and other food and drink certifications, provide a clear marque to help customers quickly identify them.
Rend Platings has appeared on the BBC several times since October 2015 in relation to the scheme, including the News at Ten, Inside Out and BBC News 24. Tesco developed the scheme’s logo and provided EU regulatory advice on the claims that may accompany its use. Cambridge University Scientists, including specialists in sugars and carbohydrates such as Dr Simmons have developed the first free sugars standards.
Dr Tom Simmons has appeared on Channel 4’s Food Unwrapped in his capacity as a Cambridge University expert on sugars and carbohydrates, and both lectures at the University of Cambridge and carries out cutting edge research on sugar and carbohydrates at the University Department of Biochemistry.
Vinicius Ferreira is a Cambridge University scientist with experience in biochemistry/biophysics research that unraveled molecular mechanisms behind the body’s response to hypoxic conditions and Alzheimer’s disease, and has experience with outreach to increase participation in scientific research from high school and minority students.
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