The European Food Safety Authority has launched a public consultation in view of an imminent evaluation on free sugars in food and drinks. (1)
Simple sugars and nutritional safety
The objective of this EFSA evaluation is to establish a cut-off value for intake of “free” sugars that is not associated with adverse health effects. Free sugars include monosaccharide (glucose, fructose, galactose) and the disaccharides (sucrose, lactose, maltose, trehalose) added in food by the producers, as well as the consumers. In addition to those sugars naturally present in honey, syrups, fruit juices and concentrated fruit juices.
The Reference Intakes – laid down by EFSA in 2010 and incorporated into Regulation EU No. 1169/11 (2) – provide a sugars daily intake of 90 grams. However, at the time, the evidence available turned out to not be enough to define, in terms of nutritional safety, a maximum limit of daily intake of total and added sugars.
The EFSA’s opinion on nutritional profiles, already in 2008, had linked the frequency of eating sugary foods, regardless of their quantity, to the risk of caries. Such risk has found further evidence in recent epidemiological studies of the health administration and the British pediatric society. (3)
The World Health Organization (WHO), in its turn, has established a recommended limit for free sugars for normal weight adults of 50g per day. This means 56% of the Reference Intakes, at the time, laid down by the EFSA.
WHO has actually invited his 193 Member States to promote the reduction of free sugar supplies within 5% of the overall energy intake. Which means 25 grams, in a 2000 kcal diet that is identified as a medium-term reference for adults. Given the risks of over-weight, obesity and other NCD’s (Non Communicable Diseases, i.e. type-2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease) associated with over-consumption. (4)
Free sugars, EFSA’s evaluation
EFSA’s scientific panel dedicated to nutrition, diet and allergies (5) has adopted a draft protocol, aiming to determine the methods to:
– collecting data (which data to use for the assessment, how to find and to select them), – examine the pertinent scientific evidence, – analyze and integrate the evidence in order to draw conclusions that will shape the basis of scientific advice.
The assessment – requested by Scandinavian food authorities (Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Norway and Iceland) – will help Member States to establish a recommendation on free sugars consumption. As well as to update adequate nutritional guidelines.
Health effects under analysis will include nutrition supply, BMI (Body Mass Index), glucose homeostasis and type-2 diabetes, risk factors and cardiovascular events, liver function and tooth decay.
EFSA has organized a technical meeting on February 13 in Brussels, to discuss which methods are to be used in the valuation. The interested parties may provide comments on the protocol until March 4, 2018.
(1) Refer to https://www.efsa.europa.eu/en/press/news/180109
(2) See Regulation EU No. 1169/11, Annex XIII part B
(3) Refer to EFSA’s scientific opinion 02.25.08 on nutritional profiles, page 14 on http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/store/10.2903/j.efsa.2008.644/asset/efs2644.pdf;jsessionid=76F81CA0F674160FF5D4C361EB0DDC77.f03t01?v=1&t=jcj6oqwe&s=e3f639477695d1c36630fd286494fe63f7aa1eac. See also http://www.independent.co.uk/news/health/uk-sugar-addiction-nhs-rotten-teeth-children-operations-cost-food-drink-diet-a8156151.html
(4) Refer to http://www.who.int/elena/titles/free-sugars-adults-ncds/en/
(5) NDA (Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies) Panel, EFSA