Skip to main content

EFSA to give advice on the intake of sugar added to food

Sugar spoons

EFSA will provide scientific advice on the daily intake The amount of a substance (e.g. nutrient or chemical) that is ingested by a person or animal via the diet. of added sugar in food by early 2020. The Authority aims to establish a science-based cut-off value for daily exposure Concentration or amount of a particular substance that is taken in by an individual, population or ecosystem in a specific frequency over a certain amount of time. to added sugars Added sugars are those added to foods during processing, cooking etc., eaten separately, or added to food at the table. 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 A reaction to a substance that is not caused by an immune response. Intolerances are more common than allergies but are less serious. 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 Community of humans, animals or plants from the same species., 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 Science-based recommendations for healthy eating which translate numerical nutrition targets into lay advice on what foods to eat..

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 For the purposes of risk assessment, measurement of the amount of a substance consumed by a person or animal in their diet that is intentionally added or unintentionally present (e.g. a nutrient, additive or pesticide)., epidemiology The study of how often diseases and other health conditions occur in different groups of people and why. It includes the study of health-related measurements (e.g. pesticide exposure or vitamin deficiency) in a population and how they may influence the risk of ill health., human nutrition The science of how diet relates to the body's need for sustenance., 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 A specialised field of applied science that involves reviewing scientific data and studies in order to evaluate risks associated with certain hazards. It involves four steps: hazard identification, hazard characterisation, exposure assessment and risk characterisation. 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.

Background

In 2010, EFSA published its Scientific Opinion on Dietary Reference Values for carbohydrates A family of nutritional substances that includes sugars, starches and fibres. 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.

How to contact us

EFSA Media Relations Office

Tel. +39 0521 036 149

E-mail: press [at] efsa.europa.eu (Press[at]efsa[dot]europa[dot]eu)

(Only if you are a member of the press)

Ask a Question Service

You have a question about EFSA’s work? Contact our Ask a Question service!

Ask a Question Service