Ministry: Onus on beverage makers to reduce sugar

  • Nation
  • Friday, 26 Jul 2019

PETALING JAYA: Manufacturers of sugary drinks, including the several dozen bubble tea brands, should “self regulate” by moderating the sweetness of their drinks to protect public health.

Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad (pic) said the onus is on the beverage makers to reformulate their drinks, especially under the new sugar tax regime.

‘’This applies not only to bubble tea but all the other products.

‘’We want them to be on board with the ministry’s agenda of a healthier nation and respond through self-regulation in upholding the agenda.

‘’If they have a sense of responsibility, they will take it upon themselves to produce healthier drinks with less than 5g of sugar per 100ml,’’ he said after launching the “Kurangkan Gula Hidup Sihat” (Less Sugar Healthy Lives) campaign at the Giant Hypermarket in Subang Jaya yesterday.

The campaign aims to promote healthy living and raise awareness on the negative effects of excessive sugar intake.

Dr Dzulkefly noted that according to media reports, bubble tea contains excessive sugar levels.

Some tapioca pearls or boba pearls also have sugar and powdered cream as part of their formulation.

‘’From my reading, 100ml of the popular drink has 20 teaspoons of sugar, while the allowed daily intake is only eight teaspoons.

‘’Consumers need to make informed decisions about what they consume to avoid becoming obese,’’ he said, adding that Malaysia remains as the most obese country in South-East Asia.

Stressing that our daily sugar intake as ‘’the real culprit’’, Dr Dzulkefly said any excess sugar intake that is not burned for energy will be stored as fat in the body.

‘’A ministry study found that nearly one in two Malaysians are overweight or obese,’’ he said, adding that obesity is the main risk factor for several non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as hypertension, cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

He noted that Malaysia is facing an alarming increase in the number of NCDs, usually referred to as “silent killers”.

The sugar tax, effective on July 1, was confined to ready-to-drink beverages, and exempts drinks prepared by stalls and coffee shops.

An excise duty of 40 sen per litre is imposed on manufactured or imported beverages containing a sugar content exceeding 5g per 100ml, as well as fruit and vegetable juices with more than 12g per 100ml.

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