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‘Suitable for diabetics’ labels off the shelves from today

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A change in food regulation means that from today manufacturers will no longer be able to label food as ‘diabetic’ or ‘suitable for diabetics’.

Diabetes UK has welcomed the change and has lobbied for over 30 years for the end of the labels which incorrectly imply a health benefit for people with diabetes and have been seen as essential over mainstream alternatives.

However, analysis has found that because many of the products carrying the label – including jams, ice creams, cakes, biscuits and chocolates – contained polyols, they were not any lower in fat or calories compared to the standard products, so could lead to weight gain. They were also often more expensive than regular products.

Natasha Marsland, Senior Clinical Advisor at Diabetes UK, said: “It is great news that this label has gone from our shelves. For too long, people with diabetes and well-meaning friends and relatives have been misled into buying products they think would benefit diabetes management. People with diabetes can meet their nutritional needs from everyday foods, just like people without diabetes.

“However, while the ‘suitable for diabetic’ label is now gone, there are still some products on sale which contain polyols, such as sorbitol and maltitol, which are permitted food additives used to sweeten food which can have a laxative effect if large quantities are eaten. Legislation requires this information is given on the label.People who are taking insulin and carbohydrate counting should be mindful that they may need less insulin, as not all the carbohydrate from polyols is absorbed. As ever, it pays to check the label.

"The Department of Health have indicated to us that they envisage that old stocks of ‘diabetic foods’ will have been sold by the end of the year and that products should then have gone from shop shelves and online.

"Diabetes UK has been asked to inform them if we hear reports that this did not happen, so do let us know if you are still finding ‘diabetic products’ being sold in December 2016 so we can advise them to enable action to be taken."

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