Sugar and the New Food Label
The Canadian government is making several important changes to the Nutrition Facts Table and List of Ingredients on food labels. The food Industry has until 2022 to make these changes, although you may already be seeing these changes on certain products as the changes began in 2016. Below is a comparison of the current food label and the new label. One of the main changes to food labelling is providing more information on sugars.
There is now a % Daily Value for total sugar. Total Sugars include the sugars found naturally in foods such as fruit sugar and lactose in milk, as well as sugars that are added to foods such as honey, syrup, fruit juice concentrate, brown sugar and glucose-fructose.
The % Daily Value (%DV) for sugars is based on 100g, which is close to the average level of consumption of total sugars in Canada. It is not a recommended level of intake. Based on a 2000 calorie diet 100g is 20% of total calories.
Other changes that have been made to the new label include the removal of a %DV for carbohydrates, making calories bold and increasing the font size, removal of Vitamin A and C and the addition of potassium.
Another change is to The List of Ingredients which now groups all added sugars in brackets after the word sugars. For Example:
Ingredients: While grain wheat, raisins, sugars (sugar, malted corn and barley syrup), salt, Sunflower oil, calcium Pantothenate.
Types of Sugar-Based Ingredients Found on the Label:
Sugar cane/beet: Sugar, brown sugar, golden sugar, icing sugar, invert sugar, golden syrup, turbinado sugar, demerara sugar, molasses, fancy molasses
Corn Sources: Glucose-fructose, (high fructose corn syrup), corn syrup, corn syrup solids, Dextrose, Glucose, High maltose corn syrup.
Other sources: Agave syrup, Coconut sugar, Date Sugar, fruit juice concentrate, honey, maple syrup, rice syrup, maltodextrin (without fibre).
If a food contains sugar alcohols or artificial sweeteners, they will be listed in the Ingredient List. Sugar alcohols and Dextrins will also be listed under carbohydrates in the Nutrition Facts Table as they contribute to the total calories. Remember, replacing sugars with sugar alcohols or Dextrins may not result in a reduction of overall carbohydrates or calorie content or improved nutritional profile.
Function of Sugar
Beyond sweetness sugar has many functional roles. Sugar is added to nutritious foods to improve flavour such as whole grain breads and yogurt. Sugar can be used as a preservative by absorbing moisture and preventing bacterial growth in jams, jellies and preserves. In ice cream sugar lowers the freezing point which prevents the formation of large ice crystals, making ice cream soft and easy to scoop. Sugar adds colour to foods when heated through caramelization or the Maillard reaction. Finally, sugar acts as a fuel for yeast which helps make bread rise.
Does it matter what source sugar comes from?
No, the body uses sucrose from fruits, and vegetables in the same way as the sucrose in maple syrup, sugar beets and cane sugar. Honey, brown sugar, table sugar, agave and maple syrup all have similar nutritional values. Once digested our bodies use the sugars from starches and sugars in the same way.