People buy sugar from a fair offering cheap sugar organised by Commerce Ministry. (Bangkok Post file photo)
A new bill imposing a maximum of 10% sugar or sweetener content in food products is expected to be passed and come into effect within this year, said the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) yesterday.
Food manufacturers that have a higher percentage of sugar or sweeteners in their products will be required to pay additional taxes for the extra sugar content, said Tipvon Parinyasiri, director of the FDA’s Food Control Division.
These sugar control measures have been included in a draft organic law of the new Excise Act, which should be passed into law some time this year, she said.
Right now, several food products contain between 12% and 14% sugar content, roughly twice the sugar content allowed in food products sold in Europe where the sugar content in food products is capped at only 6%, she said.
The sugar control policy is part of the FDA’s food safety project that aims to encourage the public to pay more attention to nutrition facts printed on labels or packages of food products, said Poonlarp Chantavichitwong, deputy secretary-general of the FDA.
The Guideline Daily Amounts (GDA), a nutrinonal facts label, has been adopted for use on food products sold in Thailand to guide consumers on making food choices that give them the right amounts of nutrition to suit their health, said Dr Poonlarp.
The GDA label is particularly useful for consumers when it comes to daily control of sugar, fat and salt intake, said the doctor, adding that these three food contents are to blame for the rise in several non-communicable diseases (NCDs).
The cluster of NCDs including diabetes, hypertension, belly fat, brain blood vessel diseases, heart disease, chronic kidney disease and dementia claimed over 349,000 lives in 2013 alone, he said.
The number of deaths associated with NCDs has been on the rise, he said.
So, the FDA is attempting to curb this public health issue by introducing a food labelling programme that helps consumers choose their food products more wisely, he said.
Consumers are encouraged to look for the the programme’s logo “Healthier Choice” when they shop for food products.
He said the programme has been being piloted in Chon Buri and Chiang Rai, and it was found that public awareness about the importance of reading labels before buying food products has improved significantly.
The FDA is considering expanding this programme to cover more areas of the country, he said.