Forum: Products claiming to have 'no added sugar' should not have added ingredients containing free sugars

We refer to Mr Jeremy Ko Sheng Wei's feedback ('No added sugar' label misleading, July 22).

To help manufacturers, distributors and retailers with labelling of food products, the Health Promotion Board published the Handbook on Nutrition Labelling in 2001.

Based on the guidelines, food and beverages that claim to have "no added sugar" should not have any added free sugars, or added ingredients that contain free sugars. Free sugars include all monosaccharides and disaccharides except sugars from milk.

The coconut shakes mentioned by Mr Ko are made using coconut water and ice cream - ingredients that contain free sugars. Therefore, they should not be labelled as having "no added sugar".

The industry must be responsible for ensuring that any food labelling claim made is accurate and can be substantiated. Under the Singapore Food Regulations, a person must not sell any food that is labelled or advertised in a false manner. Offenders who sell food with false or misleading labels can be fined up to $1,000, and repeat offenders can be fined up to $2,000.

The Ministry of Health has introduced the mandatory nutrition labelling for pre-packed beverages, like soft drinks and juices, to help consumers make more informed choices when buying a beverage.

From December this year, all pre-packed beverages must be graded A, B, C or D based on their sugar and saturated fat content. Beverages graded C or D must be labelled with the Nutri-Grade mark on the front of the package. Nutri-Grade beverages include, but are not limited to, soft drinks, juices and juice drinks, milk and milk beverages, cultured milk/yogurt drinks and 3-in-1 or 2-in-1 instant powdered beverages.

Chow Wai Leng (Dr)

Director, Epidemiology and Disease Control

Ministry of Health

Terence Ng

Director, Policy and Strategy Development

Health Promotion Board

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