Monday, 4 January 2010

How sweet it is?

I came across these nicely directed ads (slogan reads: Are we not overreacting to the dangers of sugar?) by Publicis for the sugar collective (industry) in France, Centre d’√Čtudes et de Documentation du Sucre (CEDUS: Centre for Sugar Research and Information), who gather and disseminate information on sugar derived from beets and sugar cane. The site is full of 'facts' and tips on how to use sugar variants, from caster sugar to granulated white sugar.

It's pretty scary spin that promotes the interests of beet sugar farmers in France, who have been accredited as one of the reasons behind the Stevia ban in the EU, despite Stevia's long-term use in Japan, with extracts of the plant (steviol glycoside) capturing about 40% of the sweetener market for decades. (Stevia is a natural sweetener derived from stevia leaves, which is 300 times sweeter than sugar, is not metabolised and contain no calories). Perhaps this comes as no surprise given Europe's sugar production: 18.1 million tonnes (15.2%), makes the EU the third-largest producer of sugar worldwide behind Brazil (32.5 million) and India (30.7 million). The EU’s sugar and beet sugar yields are among the highest in the world.

There has also been several conspiracy theories around the FDA ban on Stevia, which has been recently lifted. (Coca-Cola must be a powerful lobby in and of itself, as it plans to introduce zero-calorie drinks sweetened with stevia-based products on the back of the FDA's approval of Stevia).

The CEDUS ads also tap into the uncertainty of diverse research funded by various interest groups and organizations that leaves consumers confused and unsure about what is healthy and safe. Sugar is one of the most endearing of comfort foods, and it is much easier to believe research that indicates the danger of refined sugars is just a bunch of white wash by tree huggers and vegans.

Perhaps it's easier to ignore, or to maintain our existing habits, than make changes to the way we buy and consume sugar. Stevia may be illegal in Europe, but unrefined, organic sugar isn't, so there is no need to stop sweetening your tea or coffee (though not a bad idea).

Some other sweet ads:


  1. I use SweetLeaf Stevia. It has 0 calories, 0carbs, and a 0 glycemic index.

  2. Looks good - have you used it for baking? Does it have an after-taste?