The regulations around labelling
Packaged foods in Australian and New Zealand provide nutrition information on labels, including ingredients lists, nutrition information panels and content claims. Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) sets food labelling standards in the Food Standards Code. These standards are enforced by the Australian states and territories and, in New Zealand, by the Ministry for Primary Industries.
For more information on food labels and how to read them, click here.
Nutrition Information Panel
Sugars are included as part of the carbohydrates in the nutrition information panel as well as being listed separately. The amount of sugars in the nutrition information panel will include naturally occurring sugars, such as those found in fruit, as well as added sugar.
The ingredients list is a useful tool in working out what is in food and drinks.
Standard 1.2.4 –Information requirements - statement of ingredients is a standard for the information requirements relating to the statement of ingredients and contains provisions relating to, the labelling of ingredients. Clause 4 & 5 of Standard 1.2.4 sets out the following requirements:
Ingredients must be listed in descending order of ingoing weight and must be listed by common, descriptive or generic name, using any of:
(i) a name by which the ingredient is commonly known; or
(ii) a name that describes the true nature of the ingredient
(iii) a generic name for the ingredient that is specified in Schedule 10, in accordance with any conditions specified in that Schedule.
Schedule 10 specifies generic names for ingredients and conditions for subparagraph 1.2.4—4.
(a) The name ‘sugar’ may be used to describe:
white sugar; or
white refined sugar; or
caster sugar or castor sugar; or
loaf sugar or cube sugar; or
icing sugar; or
coffee sugar; or
coffee crystals; or
(b) The name ‘sugars’ must not be used in a statement of ingredients.
Given that only certain sweeteners can be listed as ‘sugar’ on the ingredients list, in order to comply with the Food Standards Code, manufacturers must list other types of sweeteners with the ‘name that describes the true nature of the ingredient’. As such, ‘added sugar’ can appear on the ingredients list as any of the below;
Dextrose (another name for glucose)
Fructose (fruit sugar)
Lactose (milk sugar)
Maltose (malt sugar)
Manufacturers use these different types of sweeteners for their various functional properties in food. Being aware of these when looking at the ingredients list and referring to the nutrition information panel will assist you in working out the composition of a food product including what proportion of the total sugars comes from naturally occurring sugars and how much comes from ‘added sugars’.