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Sweeteners are a Safe Sugar Alternative: UK Health Body

10 Apr 2017 — In a report published on 30 March, Public Health England (PHE) has acknowledged that low calorie sweeteners can play a useful role in calorie and sugar reduction and in food reformulation. In the report, the UK health agency also sets out guidelines for how the food industry can cut 200,000 tons of sugar from their products per year by 2020.

In Sugar Reduction: Achieving the 20%, the PHE states that it has taken into consideration an evidence report which found that “replacing foods and drinks sweetened with sugar with those containing no or low calorie sweeteners could be useful in helping people to manage their weight as they reduce the calorie content of foods and drinks while maintaining a sweet taste.”

“Sweeteners are a safe and acceptable alternative to using sugar and it is up to businesses if and how they wish to use them. It is known that some of the food and drink industry uses them as a means to lower the sugar content of their products while others do not, either due to legislative restrictions or issues relating to consumer acceptability,” the report adds.

In a statement on its website, the International Sweeteners Association (ISA) has welcomed the publication of the sugar reduction guidelines. 

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The PHE report sets out “guidelines for all sectors of the food industry on how to achieve a 20% sugar reduction across the top 9 categories of food that contribute most to intakes of children up to the age of 18 years.”

The categories outlined in the report are: cakes, biscuits, chocolate, sweets, ice cream, puddings, yoghurts, breakfast goods and sweet spreads. The guidelines included in the report deal with the overall levels of sugar per 100g of products needed to achieve 5% and 20% reductions, as well as average and maximum calorie or portion sizes for products likely to be consumed by an individual at one time.

Following this report, the PHE will shift the focus of its work on sugar reduction efforts “to the additional product categories that were included in the childhood obesity plan,” including baby, weaning and toddler foods targeted at children aged 4/6 months to three years, and drinks that “remain outside the scope of the soft drinks industry levy.”