M’sia Will Also Grade Their Drinks Just Like S’pore’s Nutri-Grade


Advertisements
 

If you’ve ever been to Sheng Siong market or Fairprice and walked through the drinks aisle, especially last year, it’s hard to miss the Nutri-Grade labels on pre-packaged drinks.

It typically shows you how much sugar is in your favourite drinks. Like your exam grades, “A” means not a lot of sugar, therefore “healthier”, while “D” means that it’s mostly made of sugar and it’s probably best you avoid it.

It’s clearly working because the movement spread to bubble tea chains and hawker centres where less sweet is deemed the default.

According to a research paper published in 2023, experts found that this was successful in pushing us away from buying sugary drinks. This can have potentially huge upsides to our health.

Now, Malaysia is hopping on that bandwagon too.

Malaysia’s “War on Sugar” To Curb Non-communicable Diseases (NCD) Among Malaysians

On 16 May, our neighbour’s Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad said that they will soon launch a “war on sugar” to address the rise in non-communicable diseases (NCDs) among Malaysians, quoted in The New Straits Times.

How are they going to wage that war? By grading beverages according to their sugar content.

Datuk Seri Dr Dzulkefly said that “the level of sugar in drinks is graded A, B, C or D”, but the timeline for the implementation is not specified.

He added that this war on sugar is important because the National Health and Morbidity Survey (NHMS) 2023 showed that one in two Malaysians were obese and overweight.

On the other hand, in the same report, the rate of NCDs like diabetes and hypertension had decreased in Malaysia by 2.7% and 0.8% respectively.

While you’d think we can celebrate the drop in rates, Dr Dzulkefly believes that people who are overweight and obese are at higher risk of diabetes, cancer and fatty liver diseases.

In other words, he thinks that Malaysians shouldn’t be complacent, and instead be mindful of their health by controlling sugar intake.

Not A New Campaign – Quiet Implementation

As we mentioned, the timeline for the implementation of the grading system isn’t concrete yet. If we’re assuming that the grading system is similar to what we have in Singapore, if the drink has more than 5 grams of sugar per 100ml, it will be labelled a “C”.

One of our Goody Feed editors was recently in Malaysia, hoping to drink some “C” or “D” drinks that he missed in Singapore, only to realise many of the can drinks there have fewer than 5 grams of sugar per 100ml.

During Malaysia’s Budget 2024, Malay Mail?reported that PM Anwar planned to increase the sugar tax from 40 cents per litre to 50 cents on premixed sugary drinks. This tax was first introduced in 2019.

This increase in sugar tax came into effect on 1 January 2024 according to the PwC Asia Pacific Customs and Trade.


Advertisements
 

Whether companies have started to use less sugar in Malaysia, it’s unknown, but with the new guideline, I guess the only way for you to drink sweet drinks in Singapore and Malaysia in the near future is to add sugar to your soft drink yourself.

Singapore’s Success Cited As Inspiration For Movement

Most importantly, Dr Dzulkefly mentioned Singapore in his announcement.

As he should, because we’ve been quite successful in cutting sugar thanks to the intense enforcement by the Health Promotion Board and Ministry of Health.

In case you haven’t noticed, you don’t really see the labelling as obviously as last time, because drinks are now generally made with less sugar. This is because drinks that are labelled “C” or “D”?must be labelled.

Yes, it’s compulsory.


Advertisements
 

Meanwhile, drinks with “A” and “B” are optionally labelled.

Think about it this way, would you want to show the Cs and Ds in your exam report card all the time? Meanwhile, if you get an A or B, you won’t have much shame in presenting your report card.

The same thing is happening with drink makers in Singapore. They have cut down sugar so that they won’t be mandated to show that ugly “C” or “D” on boxes.

If you want to know more about what’s happening in Singapore with the Nutri-Grade labels, you can watch our video on it here:

Until then, we hope our neighbours can improve their health through their war on sugar, inspired by us. They should perhaps give us a pass for making “Malaysian-inspired” Nasi Lemak that’s better.


Advertisements
 
Facebook
Telegram
Twitter