Supermarket shopping these days can often be a huge headache. Food labels are packed with information: Nutrition Information Panels, Recipes, Ingredient Lists, Health Claims, Use by Dates and Storage and Cooking information. It’s hard not to feel overwhelmed with the bombardment of facts and figures being thrown at us.

 A common statement you may have seen on various food products such as drinks, cereals and yoghurt is: “low in sugar”,  “sugar free”, “no added sugar”, or “reduced sugars”. Do you find these statements confusing? Do they all sound the same to you?

In this article, I’ll attempt to distinguish between the different claims. When working out how much sugar (in grams) there is per 100g of food, look at the nutrition information panel (per 100g), under “sugar”. The heading ‘Sugar’ will be found underneath the heading “Carbohydrate”.

Here are some of the common claims that may sound familiar to you:

Reduced/Lower/Less sugar(s) – When compared to a similar food (e.g. two different orange juices) it must have at least 25% less sugar. The product must have a statement comparing the food to another reference food.

Low (in) sugar(s) – The product cannot have more than 5g of sugars per 100g (5%) in the entire food.

Sugar Free/No sugar(s)/Free of sugar(s) – The product cannot have more than 0.2g of sugars per 100g (0.2%) of the food.

No added sugar(s) – No sugar, honey, malt, maltose or malt extract can be added to the product. The ingredient list shouldn’t have any sugars contained in it. However, it is still important to look at the sugar content of the product as it may contain natural sugars, such as dried fruit.

Unsweetened – In addition to no sugars being added to the product, no artificial sweeteners or other sweetening products (e.g. glycerol, sorbitol) can be in the product.

So there’s a brief comparison of the sugar claims out there. Hopefully next time you see one of these statement, they will be a little clearer than before!

This is link to a great interactive explanation of what is included on a food label:

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