A Cambridge founded organisation which is dedicated to reducing excess sugar in food and drink warned that Brexit could cut lives shorter, at a summit in Brussels chaired by East of England Labour MEP Alex Mayer.
Sugarwise, an international certification authority, that gives a "marque" to low sugar products held a European Sugar Summit attended by health officials from the European Commission, the British Medical Association and members of Diabetes Health and Healing. At the event they called for an “humanitarian exemption” on any tariffs for lower sugar food imports and exports post-Brexit, arguing that otherwise the health of disadvantaged communities across Europe will suffer.
Luke Fernandes, Sugarwise's Head of Policy said:"It's deeply concerning. We're putting up barriers to trade just at the moment they should be torn down. Children's health will be affected because of it - it would not be an exaggeration to say that the evidence suggests lives will be cut short, if this policy issue is not addressed."
Currently UK shoppers enjoy an increasingly wide range of lower sugar food in stores. However Brexit could lead to tariffs on food imports from Europe, meaning that these healthy alternatives become too expensive, or disappear from the shelves of UK supermarkets entirely.
Equally concerning is the potential impact of a trade deal with the United States of America, which could lead to a sugar-rush of high sugar products from the USA saturating the UK market. If the UK government doesn't keep up their current food labelling regulations, UK shoppers could end up unknowingly guzzling and munching their way through foods laced with high amounts of sugar, which could lead to higher levels of obesity and type 2 diabetes in the UK.
Alex Mayer MEP said: "I'm delighted to welcome Sugarwise back to the European Parliament and to host today's summit.
“The Sugarwise label is a fantastic way for shoppers to make an informed choice about the amount of sugar in food they are buying. But sadly just as action on sugar is gathering a head of steam in the UK and across Europe, Britain is embarking on Brexit.
“Today we are calling on the Government and the European Union to ensure no tariffs are inflicted on lower sugar foods. Brexit cannot be allowed to derail tackling the obesity crisis which threatens to overwhelm health systems across Europe.
Ms. Mayer continued: “Clear labelling of food is just common sense- it only seems right that mums and dads know what they are feeding their kids, and people can easily find out what they are putting in their bodies. We can’t let Brexit jeopardise our health, and it would be deeply unfair if less well off families could no longer afford to feed their children the healthy food that growing kids need.”