Starbucks responds to ‘scandalous’ sugar accusation

Starbucks beverage tops list of most sugary hot drinks
Starbucks beverage tops list of most sugary hot drinks

Starbucks and some other eateries are under fire from a health advocacy group over high sugar levels in their hot drinks.

U.K.-based Action on Sugar has released a report claiming that many commercial district hot drinks contain as much sugar as a can of cola.

Some of the hot drinks contained more than 20 teaspoons of sugars., it said.

It's "yet again another example of scandalous amounts of sugar added to our food and drink," said Graham MacGregor, Action on Sugar chairman.

The top offender was Starbucks, which had seven of the 10 worst offenders. Its Venti Grape with Chai, Orange and Cinnamon Hot Mulled Fruit, contains a whopping 99 grams of sugar – the equivalent of 25 teaspoons — per serving, the group said.

Starbucks' Chai Latte Venti had 13 teaspoons, according to the group.

Action on Sugar says Starbucks promotes that drink as a healthy option.

Starbucks said it is taking action.

"Earlier this year we committed to reduce added sugar in our indulgent drinks by 25 per cent by the end of 2020," a Starbucks spokesperson said. "We also offer a wide variety of lighter options, sugar-free syrups and sugar-free natural sweetener and we display all nutritional information in-store and online."

That promise appears to be not enough for the campaigners.

They says the U.K. needs a new tax on sugar in food and an independent agency that will oversee a reduction in fat and sugar in processed food and drink.

Health experts link excessive sugar intake to health problems such as obesity, tooth decay and type 2 diabetes.

In 2013-2014, diabetes in primary care cost the UK's NHS £2.2 million every day, according to the Health and Social Care Information Centre.

The survey covered 131 hot drinks sold in U.K. retail district outlets.