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The UK is reducing sugar. Can the US do the same?



Public Health England released “Sugar Reduction: Achieving the 20%,” a set of voluntary technical guidelines that aims to cut sugar in nine major food categories by 5% by August and by 20% by 2020, according to Food Business News.

The nine food categories consist of breakfast cereals, yogurts, biscuits, cakes, morning goods (such as croissants), puddings, ice creams, confectionery and sweet spreads.

Beverages were not included on the list because the country already has plans to implement a tax on sweetened beverages in April 2018.

The UK has committed to cutting sugar by 20% by 2020, but this seems like a lofty goal considering all of the different product reformations that would need to happen over the next several years.

Still, it’s a step in the right direction. Since the guidelines are voluntary, it will at least get more manufacturers considering sugar reduction, and more consumers aware of the amount of sugar in the foods they eat.

The World Health Organization and the FDA have both recommended that added sugars comprise less than 10% of calories consumed per day. The American Heart Association recently said that children should consume less than six teaspoons of added sugars per day, and children under 2 should avoid all foods and beverages with added sugars.

Mintel’s 2017 report on things to come in the industry listed the top trend to be backlash against sugar, so it’s an issue that consumers are already starting to think about. Brands like Nestle and Pepsi have already made efforts to reduce the amount of sugar in their products, and many other manufacturers are following suit.

Will an initiative come out of the U.S. government to force sugar reduction? That's debatable. However, a direct push might not be necessary. The new Nutrition Facts label will include a line that indicates the amount of added sugars in a product — meaning added sweeteners are going to be on display in a big way. The new label, as well as health trends, have kicked off several product reformulation efforts in the U.S., which could even classify processed fruits and vegetables as added sugars in the new labeling scheme.


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