European Food Safety Authority to look at added sugar

27 Mar 2017

sugar

The European Food Safety Authority, EFSA, will provide scientific advice on the daily intake of added sugar in food by early 2020. The Authority aims to establish a science-based cut-off value for daily exposure to added sugars from all sources which is not associated with adverse health effects. The work will be carried out following a request from Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden.

Added sugars from all sources comprise sucrose, fructose, glucose, starch hydrolysates such as glucose syrup, high-fructose syrup, and other sugar preparations consumed as such or added during food preparation and manufacturing.

The adverse health effects under consideration will include body weight, glucose intolerance and insulin sensitivity, type-2-diabetes, cardiovascular risk factors, as well as dental caries. In its assessment, EFSA will look at the general healthy population, including children, adolescents, adults and the elderly.

The advice will guide Member States when establishing recommendations for the consumption of added sugars and in planning food-based dietary guidelines.

Sweden is coordinating the request to EFSA on behalf of the five Nordic countries. Annica Sohlström, the Director General of the Swedish National Food Agency, said: “We welcome EFSA’s acceptance of the mandate which reflects the need to scientifically evaluate the links between added sugar and health at a European level.”

What is going to happen next?

EFSA will establish an ad-hoc working group with expertise in dietary exposure, epidemiology, human nutrition, diet-related chronic diseases and dentistry. The five Nordic countries that initiated this mandate will be invited to the working group as observers.

EFSA will use its established methodology to develop a protocol on how to carry out the assessment. Known as Prometheus – PROmoting METHods for Evidence Use in Scientific assessments – the method shows how EFSA selects evidence, how this evidence contributes to the risk assessment and how EFSA reports on the entire process and it results.

In line with its commitment to openness and transparency, EFSA will engage with stakeholders throughout the assessment process. It will hold two public consultations, inviting feedback on the draft protocol in the first half of 2018 and on the draft opinion in late 2019, which will also involve a face-to-face meeting with stakeholders.

In 2010, EFSA published its Scientific Opinion on Dietary Reference Values for carbohydrates and dietary fibre, which also included sugar. At this time, the available evidence was insufficient to set an upper limit for the daily intake of total or added sugars. New scientific evidence has come to light since then. There has also been growing public interest in the impact of the consumption of sugar-containing foods and beverages on human health.

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