Shoppers not being told how much sugar is in their food

Many everyday seemingly healthy foods have added sugar. Photo: PA

Shoppers are not being told how much sugar is being added to products they buy. Our findings come despite years of concern about obesity and decades of work to make food labels clear.

We found evidence of gaps in sugar labelling rules and confusion among consumers.

When ITV News did a "sugar audit" of Britain's food retailers, we found more than 20 different terms used on labels - all indicating sugars.

  • Invert sugar syrup
  • Maltodextrine
  • Corn Syrup
  • Dextrine
  • Dextrose
  • Evaporated Cane Juice
  • Fructose
  • Glucose
  • Fructose syrup
  • High Fructose Corn Syrup
  • Liquid Maltrose
  • Granulated Sugar
  • Brown Rice Syrup
  • Invert Cane Syrup
  • Honey
  • Molasses
  • Saccharose
  • Sucrose Syrup
  • Lactose
  • Sucrose
  • Dextrose Xylose

Many of these terms are confused with more healthy ingredients, with some shoppers thinking they are proteins - or even medicinal. We asked consumers to tell us what they thought the words were referring to and some of the results were quite shocking: 78% of people did not realise liquid maltrose was a sugar, and 4% thought it was "something medical".

Whatever the manufactures call it, some sugar in our food is found naturally in recipe ingredients - like in fruit.

But companies often add more. Yet labels don’t differentiate this added sugar, quite simply shoppers aren't being told. Labels only give a total for sugar - without saying how much of that is added by manufacturers. So we did our own research.

We looked at an Alpen Trail Bar (Fruit and Nut) which has the equivalent of 4 sugar teaspoons - our research shows almost a third of that is added.

We took a yoghurt drink, Nestle Munch Bunch Drinky (Strawberry), which has almost 3 teaspoons, we found more than 2 teaspoons of that is added.

With the Quaker Oat So Simple Porridge (Sultana Raisin Cranberry) there are 4 and a half teaspoons - and despite our research calls we can't say how much of it is added.

So far, the manufacturer has declined to tell us.

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