AG Barr tells BeverageDaily.com it is 'very concerned' by an inaccurate article in UK national newspaper the Daily Mail, claiming it prefers profit to consumer health by hiding sugar values on cans of IRN-BRU Regular.
In a piece seeking to “name and shame” beverage and other food brands supposedly hiding nutritional data, journalist Anna Hodgekiss quotes UK ‘consumer activist’ Martin Isark, who identifies IRN-BRU as one of the supposedly guilty brands.
“Both Old Jamaica Ginger Beer and IRN-BRU hide their sugar values under the term of carbohydrate,” the piece, in a caption below a picture of Scotland’s de facto national soft drink, produced by AG Barr.
Words washed in ginger beer?
Isark, who clearly has a rare gift for metaphor, claims that the people responsible for the nutritional labeling (presumably on both drinks), “should be drowned in their ginger beer”.
“Why? They purposely hide their sugar values under the umbrella term of carbohydrate, but their diet/light/sugar free version displays the full nutritional values, energy 2.5kj and the rest recorded as nil,” Isark says.
“I think this is one of the worst tricks, because the only nutritional value of any interest here is sugar, and it’s been hidden away. Yet all the other values such as fat or salt, where these values are minimal, ARE listed.”
If Coca-Cola and Red Bull listed sugar values, IRN-BRU and Old Jamaica should too, Isark says, concluding that “profit is obviously more important than their shoppers’ health”, and adding that both brands clearly displayed all nutritional values for their regular and sugar-free versions.
‘We are not hiding sugar values’: AG Barr
But presented with Isark’s comments, an AG Barr spokeswoman told BeverageDaily.com yesterday that the firm would ask the Daily Mail to amend its article, or at least include its comment to provide balance.
“To say we hide the sugar value on IRN-BRU regular packaging from shoppers is absolutely untrue,” she told this publication.
“We use the term ‘carbohydrate’ in the nutritional information panel of our labels because it is a requirement of EU Food Labeling legislation.
The spokeswoman added: “We also help our consumers understand the sugar content of our drinks by not only showing the sugar content in grams per serving, but also as a percentage of an adult’s Guideline Daily Amount (GDA) on every IRN-BRU pack, in accordance with the UK Food Standards Agency (FSA) voluntary code of practice.”
Since IRN-BRU Regular packaging listed the nutritional information below, the spokeswoman said it was clear from the packaging that IRN-BRU Regular contains sugar, and in what amounts.
NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION - TYPICAL VALUES per 100ml... CARBOHYDRATE- 10.5g
Then below this:
EACH 330ML SERVING CONTAINS... Sugar: 34.7g, 38% OF AN ADULT'S GUIDELINE DAILY AMOUNT
INGREDIENTS: Carbonated Water, Sugar (Carbohydrate)…
As of this morning the Daily Mail article remains unchanged. Asked for a comment, the British Soft Drinks Association (BSDA) referred BeverageDaily.com to the beverage brand owners.