Concerned consumers will read the nutritional information on the back of food packaging and not take claims on the front at face value‚ says the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).

"If the consumer has a particular reason for not eating sugar‚ they will consult the ingredient list‚" it said in a recent ruling.

The ASA dismissed a complaint about the packaging wording of Woolworths’ milk chocolate hearts sold for Valentine’s Day. The complainant‚ Sally Baikie‚ said a sticker on the side that said "No sugar added — with maltitol"‚ was misleading and a potential health risk.

"Added" was in a smaller font than the preceding words.

The nutritional information on the back said there was 7.8g of sugar for every 100g. Woolworths said these chocolates were not sold anymore and were only part of a Valentine’s Day promotion. Woolworths is not an ASA member‚ but voluntarily responded to Baikie’s complaint in the "spirit of responsible advertising".

Woolworths said it will not amend the "No sugar added" label or advertising, arguing the claim of no added sugar complied with the regulations of the Foodstuffs Cosmetics and Disinfectants Act. The regulations define "added sugar" as any sugar added during processing. The regulations allow claims if additives are "naturally present in the ingredients in the foodstuff".

Such products have to be labeled "No added [name of additive]". In this case it was sugar.

Woolworths argued that no sugar was added in the processing of the milk chocolate‚ but sugar was naturally present from the lactose naturally found in milk solids.