Recommendations released today are at odds with guidance from the European Food Safety Authority and the European Commission
Brussels, 24th April 2023: The International Sweeteners Association (ISA) rejects key recommendations included in the Nutri-Score Scientific Committee’s report for beverages released today. The report suggests altering the algorithm for the Nutri-Score front-of-pack labelling scheme for beverages by including low/no calorie sweeteners in nutrient profiling models. This penalises beverages containing such sweeteners, despite there being no rationale for their inclusion nor scientific evidence that they may enhance our desire for sweet taste, thereby increasing our consumption of sweet foods and drinks.
On the contrary, low/no calorie sweeteners are safe, one of the most researched ingredients in the world and can assist consumers with their sugar intake reduction. Food and beverage companies around the world rely on such sweeteners as critical ingredients for reformulating and innovating products with less sugar and fewer calories, while maintaining the sweet taste that consumers know and expect. Moreover, low/no calorie sweeteners may help satisfy our desire for sweetness.
Evidence is clear. Consuming low/no calorie sweetened beverages in place of sugar-sweetened products is associated with reductions in body weight and cardiometabolic risk factors, with no evidence of harm. This is confirmed by systematic reviews of higher-quality randomised controlled trials (RCTs), the only study design that provides evidence of causal relationships.
“The objective of nutrient profiling is to classify foods based on their nutritional composition to provide consumers with the right information to make health-conscious decisions,” said ISA Chairman Robert Peterson. “Taking into consideration the safety of low/no calorie sweeteners and their crucial role in reformulating food and drinks to reduce sugar and meet public health objectives, there is no scientific evidence or rationale for including them within nutrient profiling models.”
To that end, the recommendations in this report are out of line with guidance from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the European Commission for the following reasons:
- The European Food Safety Authority’s 2022 “Scientific advice related to nutrient profiling for the development of harmonised mandatory front-of-pack nutrition labelling and the setting of nutrient profiles for restricting nutrition and health claims on foods” does not include low/no calorie sweeteners. The absence of low/no calorie sweeteners in this opinion clearly demonstrates that there is no scientific evidence for considering their inclusion in nutrient profiling models, for any purposes – including labelling.
- The EU Nutrition and Health Claims Regulation, similarly does not penalise the use of low/no calorie sweeteners. In fact, it incentivises their use by manufacturers to support product innovation by setting out a range of nutrition claims for drinks and foods containing low/no calorie sweeteners.
ISA supports nutrition policies that are grounded in peer-reviewed scientific evidence and do not create confusion among consumers, particularly at a time when obesity and non-communicable diseases, including diabetes and dental diseases, remain major global health challenges.
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