The food and grocery manufacturing industry acknowledges the ongoing public interest in sugar and its possible associations with health outcomes. In Australia, most of the sugar comes from sugar cane which is refined to sucrose, also known as table sugar.
What is the recommended daily intake of sugar?
At present, there are no definitive population-based recommendations for intakes of total sugars. The Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code (FSC) provides reference values for an average adult diet based on daily energy requirements of 8700 kJ. They use a reference value of 90 grams for total sugars. This is the value used for the Daily Intake Guide (DIG). The DIG thumbnails are found on packaged food and beverage products and indicate the amount of total sugars provided by one serve. The thumbnails also express the per cent Daily Intake (%DI) which is the per serve contribution of total sugars relative to the 90 gram reference value.
What are the different types of sugar?
Sugars are carbohydrates and occur naturally in foods such as fruit and milk. The function of sugars in foods ranges from enhancing palatability, preservation qualities and functional attributes including texture, viscosity and browning capacity. Different types of sugars are sucrose, glucose, high fructose corn syrup, maltose, dextrose, raw sugar, cane sugar, malt extract, molasses and lactose (also known as milk sugar).
Is high fructose corn syrup commonly used in Australia? In the U.S. high fructose corn syrups (HFCS) is a commonly used as a sweetener. It is important to note that HFCS is not commonly used in the Australian food supply.
Common salt, or sodium chloride, is the greatest contributor of sodium to Australian diets. Sodium plays a critical role in our bodies by helping regulate water balance and control muscle and nerve function. Australians are encouraged to reduce their consumption of salt (or more particularly sodium) due to high dietary intakes being a risk factor for the development of high blood pressure.
The AFGC supports raising awareness of the need for consumers to moderate their sodium intake. For many years the food and beverage industry has been working to provide a greater variety of nutritious food and more information to help consumers make informed choices. As part of this approach, many food companies have been steadily reducing the amount of sodium in their products. This has been in partnership with retailers, other stakeholders including the Heart Foundation, and the Federal Government’s Healthy Food Partnership with the aim to reduce the levels of sodium in the Australian food supply to help address the rising levels of lifestyle-related non-communicable diseases.
Food manufacturers fully disclose the sodium content of their products through the Nutrient Information Panel and the Daily Intake Guide (DIG), an industry initiative that gives consumers clear information on the nutrient profile of a food product. The DIG thumbnails are found on packaged food and beverage products and can be used to quickly identify the amount of sodium provided by one serve.
Similarly, the Health Star Rating front of pack labelling can also give guidance to consumers seeking lower salt products through the icons indicating sodium content.
Trans-fats were largely removed from the Australian food supply during the 1990s and now contribute approximately 0.5-0.6% of dietary energy to the diets of Australians. This is well below the WHO recommendations of less than 1% of dietary energy. Repeated surveys of foods in Australia have confirmed very low levels of trans-fats., with the latest Australian Health Survey data confirming dietary intakes are very low. FSANZ is confident this is not a public health issue which demands regulations (labelling or other restrictions). This is an example of food industry innovation through product reformulation to protect public health – with Australia leading the world on this issue.