Food labelling

Today all pre-packaged foods and drinks sold in China must meet the rules set out in the National Standard 28050-2011 (3). There are plans under the Healthy China Initiative (4) to review the Standard in order to further help people better understand the nutrition labels when shopping for food, as well as require food companies to help people make informed food and drink choices through on pack labels.

Nutrient label

Currently all pre-packaged foods and drinks in China must include a nutrition label which can help you understand the nutrient and calorie count of the products you are buying including the amount of sugars.

This label can be found typically on the back or side of pack and will list the major nutrients in a product (per 100g/100ml), including energy (in kilocalories (kcal), known as calories), and the amounts of fat, carbohydrates, sugars, protein and sodium. Some products also show the nutrient content in terms of per portion as a percentage of the nutrient reference value.

Sugars will be listed as carbohydrates (which usually include both starches and sugars) and will use the phrase “of which total sugars” to show how much sugars there are per 100g/100ml of product.

Identifying ‘added sugars’

We often get asked as well about identifying ‘added sugars’ (ie. sugars that have been added during food and drink manufacturing). It is not possible to distinguish naturally occurring sugars from added sugars in a laboratory given they are the same molecule. However, some countries are now moving towards ‘added sugars’ labelling. For example, the US is introducing ‘added sugars’ onto labels of pre-packaged foods, as well as sugars from added syrups, honey and concentrated fruit or vegetable juices.


  • There is no such thing as 'hidden sugar'. It must always be declared on the food label.
  • Added sugars (as known as free sugars) are those used in manufacturing or added by the cook or consumer. Naturally occurring sugars are those found naturally in a product e.g fruit or vegetables