Manufacturers should monitor sugar content of drinks

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PETALING JAYA (July 25): Manufacturers of sweet drinks including the popular ‘bubble tea' should monitor their products to make sure that the sugar levels are not excessive.

Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad said drink manufacturers must take the responsibility of ensuring their products are more healthy and in the process, avoid the sugar tax imposed by the Government on July 1.

“This is not applicable just to bubble tea but to all other products too. We want to see them regulate and modulate the production of products which are less sugary through ways which are not taxable,” he said.

He added that the Ministry wants the drinks manufacturers to be on board with its agenda for a healthier nation and to monitor themselves.

“If they have any sense of responsibility, they will produce healthy drinks which contain less than 5 grammes sugar per 100 ml,” he said.

Dr Dzulkefly was speaking to reporters after launching the ‘Reduce Sugar, Live Healthy’ Campaign organised by Giant Malaysia with the cooperation of Fonterra Brands Malaysia at the Giant Hypermarket in Subang Jaya here today.

Dzulkefly said the Ministry found out from media reports that bubble tea contained excessive levels of sugar.

“From my readings, 100ml of the popular drink contain 20 spoonfuls of sugar while the permitted daily intake is only eight teaspoonfuls.

“The decision is in the hands of the consumers themselves, if they want to avoid obesity,” he said, adding that Malaysia had the highest rate of obesity in Southeast Asia.

He said a Ministry survey found that one out of every two Malaysians was obese, and obesity was one of the main factors for non-communicable diseases (NCDs) like such as hypertension, cardiovascular diseases and diabetes which were at worrying levels.

He added that an estimated 73 percent of deaths were caused by NCDs, with cardiovascular disease, including heart attacks and strokes being the biggest contributors.