When Fructose Free means Full of Fructose

Freedom Foods is being cute with legalistic definitions but the discerning fructose avoider should avoid their products.  The company known for its “Free From” range of foods is now touting a Muesli product which it boldly boasts is “Fructose Free”.  

3 Grains closeup

The 3 Ancient Grains Super Muesli has a giant fructose free logo emblazoned across the front of the pack, but close inspection of the fine print on the back tells you that one of the ingredients is “Sugar” and that the product is actually 5.8 per cent sucrose (which is of course half fructose).

When a concerned customer asked what was going on, he was told “The fructose free claim on pack meets current labelling regulations as the product contains no fructose”.  Strictly that’s true, the product does not apparently contain any free fructose, but what about the sucrose?

Ah well, say Freedom, “Sucrose needs to go through a conversion process in the stomach to convert to glucose and fructose.”  

Oh I see.  That’s where the misunderstanding lies.  Apparently they apply an ‘outside the body’ definition of metabolism.  But strangely this doesn’t seem to apply to fat.  

When it comes to fat they don’t just say it contains fat, they break it up into saturated fat and total fat.  Saturated fat does not of course appear as a discrete substance (separated from other fats) until it hits our lymph system.  I’m sure that if I were to ask them about that, they’d point out to me that they are required by law to separately identify the saturated fat.

So is that the difference?  They get to play amateur lawyer and be cute with definitions because at the moment the law lets them get away with it?  It would seem so.  Never mind that by the time sucrose hits our bloodstream (in other words, where it actually becomes useful to us) it is indeed fructose.

Slapping a ‘fructose free’ label on a product you know will be fructose by the time it hits the bloodstream is just plain deceptive.  It pushes the legal boundaries almost to the absolute breaking point.  I expected better from a company that boasts it will  “never stop pushing ourselves to bring you the very best”

Join the discussion 3 Comments

  • Alex says:

    I wrote to choice about this product and never heard anything – I can’t believe in this day and age in Australia manufacturers are allowed to blatantly lie to consumers and use legal terms to avoid their responsibility to their customers. Shame, shame, shame!

  • Melanie says:

    Bad labelling, but I think I can understand what they are trying to communicate. I’m someone who has to live on a low fodmap diet because I suffer from fructose malabsorption. Muesli and muesli bars are usually out of the question because of their high fructose content. I can’t eat fructose, unless it is in an equal ratio (or less than) the glucose amount. Sucrose being 50% fructose and 50% glucose, I can comfortably eat without suffering immediate digestive issues. For example, if I eat half an apple, within an hour I will be violently ill. If I had a bag of marshmallows, nothing would happen. I can consume an apple / pear if I take a glucose tablet with it.

    So I think their labelling is trying to communicate that it is suitable for people with fructose malabsorption issues, however badly it’s done. Another company label with “Fructose friendly” or something along those lines.

  • The Muesli says:

    Ah the power of big business! Oh to have the budget for the lawyers!

    At The Muesli we’re naturally SUGAR FREE – just 1.6g/100g and <.1g Fructose – that's Fructose Free and we can say that because we analyse the product specifically for fructose!

    We also carry The One Line Rule on our packaging – it's the simple way to know for sure…Keep Sugar in Check – On any nutrition panel, check one line, SUGARS. If it's more than 5g/100g (5%), Move On.

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