Over recent years, a debate has arisen over the amount of sugars people should eat and the potential effects sugars may have on health.
Starch Europe together with partner associations (CAOBISCO, CEFS, UNESDA, and PROFEL) supported an initiative aiming to contribute to an objective, fact-based and informed debateon sugars in the European Union through the provision of clear information with today’s established scientific evidence.
Here are 9 facts about sugars:
1. Sugars provide a source of energy required by the body to function.
2. Sugars are found in nature. All green plants providing foodstuffs, including fruits and vegetables, grains, as well as milk and honey, contain naturally-occurring sugars.
3. Many types of sugars are found in the diet on a daily basis. These include, for example, glucose, fructose, sucrose, and lactose.
When the term ‘sugar’ is used, people are referring to ‘sucrose’
4. The human body does not differentiate between sugars naturally present in foods and added sugars.
5. In the EU, sugars must be labelled as total sugars2 according to Regulation (EU) No 1169/2011 on the provision of food information to consumers.
6. In addition to bringing sweetness, sugars have many functions in foods, such as helping provide taste, texture and colour, extend shelf-life, and ensure safety and quality. No other single ingredient can replace all the functions of sugars in every food and drink.
7. Scientific studies in humans do not support the hypothesis that sugars may be physiologically addictive.
8. Frequency of consumption of fermentable carbohydrates3 and lack of oral hygiene are the most important factors influencing the development of dental caries.
9. Sugars can be part of a healthy and balanced diet. Excessive consumption of calories from any source, combined with insufficient energy expenditure, is associated with an increased risk of overweight, obesity and non-communicable diseases.
This initiative has produced a flyer presenting these 9 facts, as well as a brochure which explores the science around sugars and intends to put the evidence on sugars and health into context.
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In late 2023, the European Commission is due to publish its proposal for a legislative framework on sustainable food systems (FSFS). This proposal, once adopted, will likely provide the framework for a multitude of specific actions to help promote a sustainable food system going forward for years to come. It is of paramount importance to get that right.
This paper aims to demonstrate the substantial contribution so far of the EU starch industry to a sustainable food system, as well as what core needs our sector has for that contribution to continue, and even increase.