When sugar leaves a bitter taste

Nearly half of all claims that foods and drink are "sugar-free" are false, according to a survey published yesterday. One "sugar-free" product contained up to 26 grammes of sugar, according to the report by Action and Information on Sugars.

Many more offered misleading claims about their sugar content, or failed to provide legally required information about how much sugar was inside, the report's authors said.

The AIS is calling for a new legal definition of sugar to include fruit juices and concentrates, as well as tighter specifications for claims.

In particular, the organisation said consumers can be misled by labels saying a food is "low sugar", "diet" or has "no added sugar", with products that make the same claim containing different amounts of sugar. Products labelled "low sugar" contained 1.8g of sugar per 100g in the case of Ready Brek Cereal, but 16.9g in Liga rusks, the report said.

Safeway said it would examine claims that its "sugar-free" Instant Custard Powder contained 26g of sugar. The company said it was concerned by the allegations and insisted there had been no intention on its part to mislead customers.

Leading article, page 19

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