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Kiwi sports drink needs more sugar: MPI

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 29/05/2017

A sports drink company has been given until August to put five times more sugar in its product if it wants to keep calling itself an electrolyte drink.

But if SOS fails to comply they'll lose their labelling rights because the drink isn't sweet enough to meet local food standards.

The New Zealand-based company's electrolyte drink currently contains two and a half teaspoons of sugar, in line with World Health Organisation and US standards.

But the Food Standards Australia and New Zealand requirements, which the Ministry for Primary Industries says are based on best science, require it to contain 12 and a half teaspoons of sugar to maintain its electrolyte description.

SOS founder Tom Mayo said MPI was relying on outdated guideline that exposed consumers to higher levels of sugar than necessary.

As far as the government sees it, the food standards are the rules to be followed and the company should take up the issue with the authority.

Food Safety Minister David Bennett would not be drawn on whether the current standard made sense.

"My opinion is not relevant. The standards are set by FSANZ and they're the standards that are the ones followed," Mr Bennett said, suggesting the company take up the issue with FSANZ themselves.

Health Minister Jonathan Coleman wouldn't share his thoughts either saying it was a technical issue for MPI.

He instead offered some generic health advice to consumers.

"My advice would be don't eat and drink too much sugar," he said.

MPI food risk assessment manager Roger Cook told TVNZ sports rehydration drinks needed to have a high sugar content to encourage the transfer of water from the gut to the bloodstream.

"And none of the recent science we've seen is in conflict with that," he said.

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