Getting too much sugar may lead to excessive energy intake, increasing the risk of overweight and obesity. The Centre for Food Safety (CFS) and the Consumer Council (CC) have conducted a joint study on sugars content in prepackaged non-alcoholic beverages. This study aims to assess the sugars levels in prepackaged non-alcoholic beverages available in the local market, especially those with nutrition claims on sugars and sugars related statements, and enhance consumers' understanding on sugars and their awareness of the adverse health effects from excessive intake of sugars.


2. In general, sugars refer to all mono-saccharides and di-saccharides present in food. They provide sweet taste, colour, bulk and thickness to food as well as preserve them. Sugars in food can either be naturally present or added.

3. Sugars provide energy for the body but have no other nutritional value. Getting too much sugar may lead to excessive energy intake, increasing the risk of overweight and obesity. Frequent and excessive intake of sugars can also cause dental caries.

4. The World Health Organization and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations suggest that the intake of free sugars i.e. all mono-saccharides and di-saccharides added to foods by the manufacturer, cook or consumer, plus sugars naturally present in honey, syrup and fruit juices in diets should be less than 10% of the daily energy intake. For example, an individual with a daily energy intake of 2000kcal should limit the intake of free sugars to less than 50g per day.

5. In Hong Kong , the Food and Drugs (Composition and Labelling) (Amendment: Requirements for Nutrition Labelling and Nutrition Claim) Regulation 2008 ("the Amendment Regulation") will come into force on 1 July 2010 . Upon that time, all applicable prepackaged foods will have to provide nutrition labels on their package with contents of energy and seven specified nutrients, including sugars declared. In addition, nutrient content claims and nutrient comparative claims on sugars are permitted if the prescribed conditions are met. Sugars related statements such as "less sweet" and "no added sugars" are not considered as nutrition claims on sugars.

6. Reading the ingredient list of the prepackaged food can help identify if the food contains added sugars. Names for added sugars in an ingredient list include brown sugar, dextrose/glucose, fructose, fruit juice concentrates, high-fructose corn syrup, honey, invert sugar, lactose, maltose, molasses, sucrose and syrup etc. If they are listed as one of the first few ingredients in the ingredient list, the food may contain relatively high amount of sugars.

The study

7. This study covers various prepackaged non-alcoholic beverages, including (i) carbonated drinks (e.g. cola, cream soda, orange soda); (ii) fruit juice and juice drinks (e.g. orange juice, orange juice drink, grape juice drink); (iii) soya beverages; (iv) lactic acid beverages; (v) chocolate and malt drinks; (vi) milk tea and coffee (e.g. ready-to-drink milk tea, ready-to-drink coffee, milk tea mix and coffee mix), (vii) other tea and herbal drinks (e.g. lemon tea, green tea with honey, fruit-flavoured tea, chrysanthemum tea, sugar cane drink and Prunella vulgaris beverage) and (viii) sports and energy drinks.

8. A total of 80 prepackaged beverages (64 ordinary products and 16 with nutrition claims on sugars and/or sugars related statement * ) were purchased from the local market. They were subject to laboratory analysis for sugars, total fat, saturated fat, trans fat, carbohydrates, protein, sodium and energy conducted by the Food Research Laboratory of the CFS.

9. Salient findings of the study are summarised below:

A summary of results is listed in the following table:

Food products Ordinary products Products with nutrition claims on sugars/ sugars related statement *
No. of samples Sugars range (g/100g) No. of samples Sugars range (g/100g)
(i) Carbonated drinks 6 10 - 13 0 -
(ii) Fruit juice and juice drinks 9 8.1 - 13 1 9.1
(iii) Soya beverages 7 5.3 - 7.2 5 4.8 - 5.5
(iv) Lactic acid beverages 3 13 - 16 1 11
(v) Chocolate and malt drinks
Powder mix 5 53 - 67 0 -
(vi) Milk tea and Coffee
Ready-to-drink 6 6.4 - 10 0 -
Powder mix 6 36 - 54 5 4.3 - 49
(vii) Other tea and herbal drinks 18 3.0 - 13 4 0.3 - 9.8
(viii) Sports and energy drinks 4 4.4 - 9.7 0 -
Total 64 16

Advice to the Public

Advice to the Trade

November 2009
Risk Assessment Section
Centre for Food Safety
Food and Environmental Hygiene Department

* Discrepancies were found between the Chinese and English version of the nutrition claim on sugars and sugars related statement in some samples. For the purpose of this study, the nutrition claim on sugars and sugars related statement in Chinese would be used for categorisation and analysis. However, nutrition claims made in any language are covered by the Amendment Regulation and all relevant requirements are applicable to products making nutrition claims in any language.