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Councils sweet on teaspoon labels for sugar

Local authorities want fizzy drinks to carry labels showing sugar content in teaspoons.

The idea, also promoted by celebrity chef Jamie Oliver, would “spell out” how much sugar the drinks contained, the Local Government Association said.

“On average, it takes just 15 seconds for shoppers to decide on an item, so we need to have a labelling system which provides an instant at-a-glance understanding of sugar content,” said councilor Izzi Seccombe.

The LGA statement also highlighted how youngsters in the UK are “the biggest soft drinkers in Europe”, with 40% of 11 to 15-year-olds guzzling at least one drink a day. Under-10s get almost a fifth of their sugar intake from soft drinks and for 11 to 18-year-olds, that figure is nearly a third.

The food industry said such a scheme would create more confusion, especially if it was only applied to drinks. Singling out sugar would also be problematic, according to the Food and Drink Federation.

“A lot has been said in recent months around what additional information people may find useful on food and drink packaging, but very little is said about how people can be helped to use the information that companies already provide,” noted FDF corporate affairs director Tim Rycroft.