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Restriction on the Content of Free Sugars in Health Food

  • Data Source:Food and Drug Administration, Ministry of Health and Welfare
  • Created:2017-08-29
  • Last Updated:2017-08-29

The Ministry of Health and Welfare (MOHW) implements the health food registration system in order to better and more effectively manage and monitor health food. Vendors of food products that are to be labelled or advertised as “health food” with claims of health care effects are required to submit scientific test reports that support the claim and the application to the MOHW for registration of the product as a health food. A health food is a product intended to enhance health but not to treat medical conditions. Health food comes in many forms and varieties, which include the type of general dietary supplements, such as capsules, tablets and powder, etc. and the type of conventional food products, such as powder, cereal, noodle, tea, yogurt, fermented milk, vinegar drink, chicken essence, and clam essence, etc..


Health food must be manufactured according to a product formula low in fat, sodium and sugar, a guiding principle in conformity with the national food and nutrition policy to ensure the overall nutrition value of the product. Excessive free sugars intake poses risks of obesity, metabolic syndrome, and cardiovascular diseases. For this reason, the MOHW decides to restrict the free sugars content in health food by imposing an upper limit. The World Health Organization recommends that for a person consuming approximately 2000 kcal per day, the amount of free sugar should be less than 10% of total daily energy intake, which is equivalent to 50 grams. Therefore, the MOHW regulates the product formula of health food by providing in the Health Food Registration Review Guideline, as newly amended on July 17, 2017, that the amount of free sugars added to health food products shall not exceed 25 grams (50% of the daily sugar limit). Health food products that contain more than 17 grams of free sugars (1/3 of the daily sugar limit) shall include the following health warning: “Based on the product recommended amount of intake (XX gram/ml), the product contains XX gram of added free sugars. Please watch your energy intake.”


The MOHW has started promoting reduction of sugar in health food several years ago. As of the date, the MOHW has approved about 400 health hood products, all of which comply with the limitation on free sugars content. According to the existing regulations, health food may claim the following 13 health care effects, including “protecting bone health”, “regulating blood lipids”, “reduce body fat formation”, “protecting the liver”, “regulating the immune system”, “postpone aging”, “regulating the gastrointestinal tract”, “regulating blood sugar”, “anti-weariness”, “regulating blood pressure”, “adjuvant modulating allergic constitution”, “protecting teeth health”, and “promoting iron absorption”.