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Companies break sweeteners label law

October 1998

Several leading food companies are ignoring the law on labelling sweeteners, says a report from the Food Commission today.

A survey of artificially-sweetened products found that several leading companies, including St Ivel, Müller and Sainsbury's, ignored the legal requirement to state 'with sweeteners' next to the name of the product, according to the report published in The Food Magazine today.

In July 1997, when the Sweeteners in Food Regulations became law in the UK, manufacturers were required to make it clear when they used sweeteners by stating, next to the name of the product, the phrase 'with sweeteners' as well as declaring the sweeteners in the ingredients list. The Food Commission waited over a year to ensure that older products were cleared from the shelves, then examined a range of brands to see how well they complied with the regulations.

'While we found some companies hide the information in small print, against the spirit of the law, we actually found several companies ignored the law completely,' said Dr Tim Lobstein, co-director of the Food Commission. 'With increasing numbers of products using artificial sweeteners, including yoghurts, desserts, soft drinks, baked beans and crisps, it is imperative that companies give consumers the information they are entitled to. We want magistrates to take a tough line on anyone found guilty of denying consumers their rights.'