Alarming sugar levels found in high street milkshakes

Milkshakes sold in restaurants and fast food chains have been found to contain up to 39 teaspoons of sugar per serving.

The worst offender was Toby Carvery’s Unicorn Freakshake which contained over six times the recommended daily amount of sugar for a 7- to 10-year-old and over half the daily-recommended amount of calories for an adult.

The campaign group, Action on Sugar, which compiled the research, is calling for mandatory traffic light coloured nutrition labelling across all out of home menus and a ban on the sale of milkshakes that exceed a calorie limit of 300 calories per serving. Public Health England’s sugar reduction targets include a cap on milkshake products likely to be consumed in a single occasion to 300 calories.

Analysis showed that milkshakes sold out of home contained far higher levels of overall sugar than those sold in supermarkets where the worst offending milkshake, produced by Muller, contained 304 calories. However, 90% of the 41 supermarket products surveyed would still receive a ‘red’ (high) label for excessive levels of sugars per serving as sold.

On the high street, milkshakes from Five Guys and Harvester contained more than 1000 calories per serving, while those from Pizza Hut and Gourmet Burger Kitchen contained more than 20 teaspoons of sugar.

The research found that all products sold in high street restaurants and fast food chains, with nutrition labelling available online, would receive a red label for excessive levels of sugar per serving.

A number of out-of-home brands, including Byron, Creams, Ed’s Diner, Frankie & Benny’s, Handmade Burger Company and TGI Fridays, do not publish their nutrition information online or in their outlets.

“Undoubtedly some of these milkshakes contribute to excess sugar and calorie intake, and it is shocking this information is hidden from the consumer, who would struggle to find it,” said Kawther Hashem, registered nutritionist and researcher at Action on Sugar. “It is time the government introduced legislation to force companies to be more transparent about what is in their products by displaying clear nutrition information online and in the outlets, at all times.”

A spokesperson for Toby Carvery, owned by Mitchells and Butlers, told the Guardian that the brand shared its nutritional information online and was working with suppliers to reduce sugar levels in line with PHE’s sugar reduction programme.

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