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New labelling shows sugar, fat consumption

New labelling shows extent of sugar, fat consumption

Newly introduced nutrition labelling which requires companies to disclose the amount of sugar, fat and other ingredients in food for the first time, confirms what many have suspected for years - that New Zealand children are eating many foods that are astonishingly high in fat and sugar, Green Health spokesperson Sue Kedgley said today.

"As an example, there are about 12 teaspoons of sugar in a 355 ml can of Fanta, and about 9.5 teaspoons of sugar in the same size can of Coca Cola* [note:this calculation is based on 4 grams equalling 1 teaspoon]. This is well over two-thirds of the recommended daily intake of sugar for a child," Ms Kedgley said.

Ms Kedgley said parents would be surprised to find that popular brands of potato crisps contained up to 38 grams of fat per 100grams, with one 100g packet constituting about 55 per cent of the recommended daily intake of fat for children. Some marshmallows contained about 60 grams of sugar per 100 grams, constituting 96.7 per cent of the recommended daily intake of fat for children. (see survey attached)

New nutrition labelling rules will apply to nearly all packaged food manufactured from next week (December 20.) The new labels must show details such as nutrition information, the percentage of the product made up by the main ingredient, new date markings and full disclosure of major allergens. Ms Kedgley said the new rules were a breakthrough, but they were still not clear enough.

"It's wonderful that for the first time parents can work out how much sugar and fat their children are getting from food. But with New Zealand facing an obesity epidemic among children, it is particularly important they have access to commonsense, easy to understand information at a glance," Ms Kedgley said.

Ms Kedgley and two Green Party staff members this week surveyed supermarket foods that were already meeting the new requirements. The survey revealed not only shockingly high levels of sugar and fat in many foods - particularly those aimed at children - but also how difficult it was to easily interpret the new labels.

"We had to do a substantial amount of work, huddled over calculators, to translate the information on the labels into simple information such as how many teaspoons of fat and sugar were in food. Parents want to be able to look at a label and know straight away how much sugar and fat is in each product, so they can build a balanced diet for their children."

Ms Kedgley said it would be helpful if the labels also showed the recommended daily intakes of sugar and fat for children and adults to put the information into perspective and help the public make informed decisions. She was also concerned that many popular foods had not yet started applying the new labels, just one week away from the deadline; and she was also surprised most did not include percentage labelling, a requirement of the new labelling laws.

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