Asda's senior nutritionist Julie Dean writes about the steps we're taking to reduce sugar from our own-brand products.

At Asda we want to make it easier for people to make healthier eating choices – so for the past few years we’ve been working to reformulate many of our own-brand products to reduce the amount of calories, sugar, salt, fat and saturated fats.

Since 2013 we’ve reformulated more than 2,300 products including many of our own-brand cereals and soft drinks. We don’t want to compromise on quality or taste so for every product we’ve reformulated we’ve carried out taste tests to make sure people like the replacement as much, if not more, than the original product.

In reformulating some of our soft drinks we’ve taken out some or all of the sugar and replaced it with sweeteners.

The sweeteners we’ve chosen to use in our soft drinks are sucralose, stevia and Ace-K, sometimes blended with a small amount of sugar. The additives (including sweeteners) we use are thoroughly tested and approved for safety under European law and we make sure we stick to all of the legal and regulatory guidelines. The NHS has addressed some of the issues raised in the press about sweeteners on its website and explains more here about why they’re a safe alternative to sugar.

Because we’ve already reduced or removed the free sugar in some of our soft drinks we do not have any that will be impacted by the Government’s new Soft Drinks Industry Levy, also called the “Sugar Tax”, that comes into effect on 6th April 2018.

Under the new guidelines the levy will add an extra 18p per litre on drinks that contain 5g or more sugar per 100ml and 24p per litre on drinks that contain 8g or more sugar per 100ml. Some drinks are excluded from the Soft Drinks Industry Levy, including drinks that are 75% milk-based and 100% fruit juice.

Where we could not reformulate without compromising on taste and/or quality we’ve removed the line and instead have launched new low-sugar drinks in their place.

In total we have removed 1,071 tonnes of sugar by reducing sugar in 40 of our soft drinks.

We’re also launching a new 'petal icon' to make it easier for customers to see the nutrition claims on pack and make healthier choices. All the products which meet our healthy-eating criteria will carry the petal icon, so look out for it later this year.