6 Jan 2019

A spoonful of sugar: Call for teaspoon label on drinks

8:52 am on 6 January 2019

Dentists want sugary drink manufacturers to be forced to label their products detailing the teaspoons of sugar per serve.


sugar Photo: 123 RF

The government is currently considering recommendations from the country's food watchdog, Food Standards Australia and New Zealand, including the call for a teaspoon icon on beverages, showing how much sugar they have.

The Dental Association's sugary drinks spokesperson Donna Kennedy said parents often did not know how much sugar was in the drinks they gave their children.

She added that tooth decay among children under 14 was getting worse, and now 100 children a day were having their teeth extracted in New Zealand.

"[Parents] say to me, 'Oh, I didn't know there was that much sugar in fruit juice! I thought it was healthy'," she said.

"But if you grabbed a glass of orange juice and you could see that it had nine teaspoons of sugar... you would understand."

Ms Kennedy said the current voluntary food star rating system put too little emphasis on sugar, meaning some high-sugar cereals received a healthy rating.

"There's a real anomaly when a water product, water drink, isn't a five-star product. That's bizarre. It's water."

Labour MP Jamie Strange had a bill in the ballot calling for the teaspoon labelling on drinks.

"If that gets drawn, which we're hopeful that would happen, that debate can happen in our Parliament and we're hopeful that those changes will be introduced," she said.

However, she said the government should not wait for this and should act to bring in new labelling immediately.

"The government has recognised that effective labelling of food and drinks does contribute to their objective to improve the health of New Zealanders," she said.

"We'd like to see some clear action to actually enable customers to make informed choices about what they're eating and drinking."

The Dental Association was also advocating for a sugar tax, and water-free policies in schools, as part of their efforts to reduce dental health issues among children.

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