Ready-to-drink pre-mixed spirits sold in major UK retailers are “unnecessarily high” in hidden sugar and calories, a new product survey has discovered.
According to Action on Sugar, these drinks should be forced to reformulate immediately to the agreed criterion set by government in the Soft Drinks Industry Levy (SDIL) or pay the fine.
202 ready-to-drink (RTD) alcoholic beverages sold in-store and online were surveyed by Action on Sugar. Of the 154 products collected in-store, nutrition information on pack was “shockingly low” making it difficult for consumers to know exactly what they are drinking.
41% in-store had some form of nutrition information on pack, while on 9% had sugar information on pack.
Due to the lack of information provided on pack in-store, Action on Sugar commissioned independent laboratory analysis of 21 products which has exposed for the first time the variation of sugar and calories to the public.
Many drinks in the ‘traditional premixed cocktails’ category were “exceedingly high” in sugar. For example, TGI Friday’s Passion Fruit Martini has over 12 teaspoons of sugar (49.1g).
The worst offender in the ‘fruit based/’soft’ mixed drink” category was WKD Blue. A 700ml bottle would provide 59g of sugar which Action on Sugar said was the same as eating four iced doughnuts in one sitting.
When it came to ‘spirit/liqueur and mixers (excluding gin)’, the worsts beverages had in excess of 30g of sugar in a serving. Action on Sugar said the findings in this category “clearly demonstrate that lower sugar products can be produced easily”.
It compared Asda Vodka, Lime & Lemonade, which has 12g sugar (3tsp) in a 250ml can, with Classic Combinations Vodka Lime and Lemonade has over a teaspoon of sugar extra at 16.2g sugar per 250ml can.
Worst in the ‘gin and mixer’ category was Classic Combinations Pink Gin and Tonic, containing a 27g of sugar in a 250ml can – the same sugar content as Coke. This is followed by Classic Combinations Rhubarb Gin and Ginger Ale with over five teaspoons of sugar (20.8g) in a 250ml can.
“Our survey clearly shows that similar drinks can be made with less sugar and calories, yet drink manufacturers are failing to take the appropriate action,” said Holly Gabriel, registered nutritionist at Action on Sugar.
“Urgent attention is required from the government to ensure that gaps in the law do not contribute to the rise in obesity and related health conditions, as well as alcohol harm.”