Allen’s new lolly range sparks sugar row
Iconic Australian lolly company Allen's is launching an all-new range of reduced sugar lollies - which obesity and health experts have slammed as another food fad that is harmful to consumers.
Allen's has joined a growing trend of confectionery brands cashing in on 25 per more reduced sugar in a bid to maintain pace with customer demand.
Soaring obesity rates - and the resulting hit on health budgets globally - have seen other countries weigh in with taxes on sugary drinks and foods high in saturated fat.
Iceland considered a 20 per cent sugar tax this year, but ultimately dropped the idea.
Allen's told News Corp its new range features Allen's Grubs that come in five flavours: raspberry, pineapple, apricot, blackberry and lemon. There is also a berry-flavoured range called Allen's Strawbs.
The firm says the range is made with no artificial sweeteners and the removed sugar has been replaced with a soluble corn fibre.
Joyce Tan, Nestle's Head of Marketing Confectionery, said the products in the Allen's 25% Less Sugar Range contained six grams of sugar per serve - or 1.5 teaspoons - compared to the 9 grams of sugar per serve in regular Allen's jellies.
Ms Tan said now was the right time for the company to move towards sugar-reduced products made from all-natural ingredients.
"We know that Aussies are extremely passionate when it comes to their lollies, and that they only expect the best from Allen's," Ms Tan said.
"Our number one focus has been on creating the best taste possible, with 25 per cent less sugar and absolutely no artificial sweeteners.
"These tasty treats are sure to spark smiles across the nation and are perfect for those wanting to indulge in a reduced sugar treat, which is still satisfyingly delicious.
They're also guaranteed to deliver on the amazing flavour and quality people expect from us, so lolly lovers won't have to compromise on taste."
But Associate Professor Kieron Rooney, of the University of Sydney, warned that the Allen's 25% Less Sugar Range still contained high amounts of sugar.
The obesity expert said consumers need to bear in mind that the most important thing is how much sugar you are eating, not just a matter of whether or not it's less than if you were eating an alternative lolly.
"These new range lollies are still going to be 30 per cent sugar which is not a low sugar product at all. These new lollies will still have about half a teaspoon of sugar in every single lolly," Dr Rooney told News Corp Australia.
"The World Health Organisation recommends eating no more than 6 to 12 teaspoons of added sugar from all foods, all day. That's it. So have a think about how many of these lollies you would eat if they were in a bowl in front of you.
"Even if you only ate three, as a conservative guess, you'd have eaten a quarter of the recommended sugar intake for the whole day."
Dr Rooney said the food industry deserved credit for trying to manage maintaining product sales in the face of consumer trends away from sugary products.
But, he said, the new products are "complementing" the original products not replacing them.
"So actually we are increasing the variety of sugary products in the supermarket shelf now," he said.
"If we really wanted a win for public health, one would need to replace high sugar products with lower sugar varieties."
Dr Rooney said the sweetness of sugar makes what would be otherwise non-palatable junk foods tasty and so more likely to be overconsumed.
Sugar also has direct effects on reducing health, such as tooth decay and fatty liver, he said.
"So its role in supporting the nation towards consuming ultra-processed junk foods that contribute to obesity cannot be denied, he said.
"Regardless of whether or not it is the sugar itself directly causing a problem or it is just an enabler of poor food choices, it most definitely has a role."
Dr Rosemary Stanton, Visiting Fellow in the School of Medical Sciences at UNSW, said there was a risk in labelling products as "reduced sugar".
"Technically, reduced sugar is a term that is OK in this instance as our Food Standards Code says the product must have 25 per cent less sugar than a similar product. I doubt many consumers know this," the respected nutritionist said.
"However, I don't think reducing sugar by 25 per cent in a food with no nutritional benefits is a good thing as the product still lacks any nutrients, still has adverse effects on teeth and the fact that it's labelled as 'reduced sugar' may make people think it's OK to consume, possibly even consume more."