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Alcoholic RTDs hide sugar in plain sight

Popular RTD cocktails and pre-mixed spirits are under fire for their super-high sugar content, mostly undisclosed, and UK campaign group Action on Sugar, is now shouting about it.

These drinks contain ‘unnecessarily high and hidden sugar and calories’, says Action on Sugar and urges that they should be reformulated in line with the parameters set out by the UK sugar tax – or else face a fine.

Pre-mixed G&Ts, for example, can contain nine teaspoons of sugar in a 250ml can – equivalent to a can of cola.

And as alcohol doesn’t have to display nutritional information like their non-alcoholic counterparts, nine out of 10 pre-mixed spirit drinks don’t give consumers on-pack information on sugar content.

The UK’s sugar tax applies to soft drinks, and comes into effect at 5g sugar per 100ml. Action on Sugar says alcoholic RTDs should be told to reformulate to come in under this threshold, or else face a fine. 

One RTD equivalent to four doughnuts

Action on Sugar surveyed 202 RTD (ready to drink) alcoholic beverages sold in-store and online.​ Out of the 154 products collected in-store, nutrition information on pack was ‘shockingly low’.

It found 41% of products in-store had some form of nutritional information on pack; while only 9% displayed information about the sugar content.

Traditional pre-mixed cocktails were found to be ‘exceedingly high in sugar’: TGI Friday’s Passion Fruit Martini has more than 12 teaspoons of sugar (49.1g) in a 500ml pack (9.8g per 100ml).

In the fruit-based mixed drink category, WKD Blue (pictured) was the worst offender among the products surveyed, with 59g per 700ml pack – equivalent to four iced doughnuts (this equates to 8.4g per 100ml).

Archers Schnapps & Lemonade contains 33g per 250ml pack (13g per 100ml); while a Classic Combinations Pink Gin and Tonic contains 27g per 250ml pack (11g per 100ml) – equivalent to a can of cola. 

For a number of products surveyed, information about sugar content was simply not available.

But campaigners say that other drinks on the market prove it is possible to reformulate and lower sugar in such drinks, such as by the use of a diet, light or low sugar mixer.

Balans Mandarin Aqua Spritz (4%), for example, contains 1.5g sugar per 250ml can: sweetened with a ‘hint of cane sugar and all-natural fruit flavors’ without artificial flavors or sweeteners. Sugar and calorie content is available on pack.

Tesco Gin & Low Calorie Tonic contains 0g sugar, sweetened with aspartame and acesulfame-K….. Read the full article

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