‘Zero’ food and drink not always sugar-free

CONSUMER organisation OCU has warned that food and soft drinks branded “zero” are not necessarily sugar-free.

There is no law to say that manufacturers and brand designers are obliged to guarantee products labelled “zero” do not contain sugar, even though the average shopper would assume this to be the case, automatically.

In many cases, “zero” is merely an advertising message and is not linked to the nutritional content, reveals the OCU.

To guarantee food or drink is low in sugar, fat, salt or similar elements, consumers should look out for the words sin (“without”), bajo contenido (“low content”), bajo valor (“low amount”), or valor reducido en (“reduced”).

None of these terms can be used as mere publicity claims and must, by law, be followed through in the ingredients used.

The OCU says manufacturers “should not be allowed” to use labels in a type which is four or five times larger for the nature and quality of a product, and then use much smaller print to explain the content, when the advertising label leads the customer to believe this is something different.

So, calling a product “zero” in large letters, then, in small words, referring to the true sugar, fat or salt content, is deemed to be misleading.

Another trick is to use different colours for each of these texts, with the “misleading” label in a brighter shade to draw attention to it.

In an attempt to stamp out advertising which is deceptive, but not illegal, and to ensure consumers know what they are buying, the OCU has set up the Twitter hashtag #NoCuela (“Don’t fall for it”), enabling it to clarify ambiguous or false information concerning all types of products.

Consumers themselves can join in by sending the OCU details of any misleading or confusing packaging information, so that it can be investigated, either by using the hashtag or emailing the organisation on


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Posted by on Jan 4 2019. Filed under Food. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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