'Sugar-free' booze: Australia and NZ regulator to review rules amid 'misleading' claims

By Gary Scattergood

- Last updated on GMT

The review over sugar claims in alcholic drinks will take one year. ©iStock
The review over sugar claims in alcholic drinks will take one year. ©iStock

Related tags New zealand Alcohol Regulation

Food Standards Australia and New Zealand (FSANZ) is to embark on a year-long review of the rules governing sugar claims in relation to alcoholic drinks, amid ministerial concerns of misleading messaging to consumers.

The Australia and New Zealand Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation discussed sugar claims in relation to alcoholic beverages first discussed the issue last November.

Forum ministers said they were aware of an increasing number of  alcoholic drinks for sale in Australia and New Zealand with the claim they are ‘% sugar-free’.

It also stated that ministers were concerned that these claims were misleading, and that alcohol was being promoted as a healthier choice for consumers when public health advice is to limit alcohol intake. 

Review justification

Under the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code - Standard 1.2.7 - Nutrition, Health and Related Claims, nutrition content claims are not allowed on alcoholic beverages that contain more than 1.15% alcohol with the exception of claims about energy, gluten or carbohydrate.

Ministers asked FSANZ to review the matter, with the regulator ruling that was justification for clarifying the existing rules..

FSANZ noted: “Based on the technical assessment, FSANZ has agreed to raise a proposal to clarify Standard 1.2.7 of the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code in line with the original policy intent that prohibits claims on alcoholic beverages in relation to sugar and carbohydrate. This work will be undertaken over the next 12 months and includes stakeholder consultation.”

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