Efsa, sugar consultation




has launched a public consultation ahead of its upcoming evaluation of simple sugars in foods and beverages.


Simple sugars and nutritional safety

The objective of the evaluation by Efsa

, the European Food Safety Authority, is to define how many

simple sugars

can be consumed each day without causing harm to health.

Simple sugars, free sugars, include monosaccharides (glucose, fructose, galactose) and disaccharides (sucrose, lactose, maltose, trehalose), added into foods by producers as well as consumers. As well as sugars naturally present in honey, syrups, fruit juices, and juice concentrates.

Reference Intake (RI) -defined by Efsa in 2010, and adopted in EU Regulation 1169/11 (2)-considered a daily intake of 90 g of sugars acceptable for an average adult. At the time, however, the available evidence was insufficient to define, in terms of nutritional safety, a maximum daily intake limit for total or added sugars.

The Efsa opinion on nutrient profiles, after all, linked the frequency of consumption of sugary foods, independent of their quantity, to the risk of dental caries back in 2008. This risk has found recent evidence in epidemiological studies by the Health Administration and the British Pediatric Society. (3)

L’World Health Organization (WHO), in turn, defined a recommended threshold of simple sugars for normal-weight adults as 50 g/day. That is, 56% of the baseline consumption established at the time by Efsa.

WHO, even, has called on its 193 member countries to promote the reduction of simple sugar intakes within 5 percent of total energy intake. That is, 25 grams, in a 2000 kcal diet that is identified as the average reference for an adult individual. In the face of the risks of obesity, overweight and other noncommunicable diseases (type 2 diabetes, primarily) associated with its excessive consumption. (4)

Simple sugars, the Efsa assessment

The Efsa scientific panel dedicated to nutrition, diet and allergies (5) has adopted a protocol scheme, aimed at defining methods for:

– Collecting data (what data to use for evaluation, how to find and select them),
– Evaluate relevant scientific evidence,

– analyze and integrate the evidence in order to draw conclusions that will form the basis of the scientific opinion.

The opinion has been requested by the national food authorities of Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Norway and Iceland and will help member states establish recommendations on the consumption of simple sugars. As well as preparing appropriate nutritional guidelines.

The health effects

under analysis will include nutrient intakes,body mass index

, glucose homeostasis and type 2 diabetes, risk factors and cardiovascular events, liver function, and dental caries.

Efsa held a technical meeting on February 13, 2018, in Brussels to discuss the method to be used in the assessment. Interested parties can submit comments on the protocol until March 4, 2018.

Dario Dongo


(1) Cf. https://www.efsa.europa.eu/en/press/news/180109

(2) See reg. EU 1169/11, Annex XIII, Part B

(3) See Efsa scientific opinion 25.2.08 on nutrient profiles, page 14, at


. See also. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/health/uk-sugar-addiction-nhs-rotten-teeth-children-operations-cost-food-drink-diet-a8156151.html

(4) Cf. http://www.who.int/elena/titles/free-sugars-adults-ncds/en/

(5) Efsa NDA Panel ,
Nutrition, Diet and Allergies

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Dario Dongo, lawyer and journalist, PhD in international food law, founder of WIISE (FARE - GIFT - Food Times) and Égalité.