Zero Food and Drink May Not Be Sugar-Free

Consumer organisation OCU has warned that zero-branded food and soft drinks are not necessarily sugar-free. No law is in force to guarantee products labelled as ‘zero’ do not contain sugar. In many cases, ‘zero’ is merely an advertising message and is not linked to the nutritional content. To guarantee food or drink is low in sugar, fat, salt or similar elements, consumers should look out for the words sin (without), bajo contenido (low content), bajo valor (low amount), or valor reducido en (reduced). 

The OCU says manufacturers should not be allowed to use labels in a font four or as calling a product ‘zero’ in large letters, then in small typeface referring to the true sugar, fat or salt content.

Another trick is to use different colours for each of these texts, with the misleading text five times larger for the nature and quality of a product and then using much smaller print to explain the content.

In a bid to stamp out advertising that is deceptive and to ensure consumers know what they are buying, the OCU has set up the Twitter hashtag #NoCuela (don’t fall for it) enabling it to clarify ambiguous or false information. Consumers can join in by sending the OCU details of any misleading or confusing packaging information so that it can be investigated, either by using the hashtag or emailing the organisation on

Tolls To Be Cut By 30% On Many Motorways from 15th January

The ones which have been ‘bought back’ from their franchise firms by central government – before the current reigning socialists gained power – will now be managed by the State and the fees for using them slashed in a bid to encourage more traffic.

Those affected:

  • The Alicante ring-road
  • The AP-7 between Cartagena (Murcia) and Vera (Almería)
  • The AP-36 between Ocaña (Toledo province) and La Roda (Albacete province)
  • The AP-41 between Madrid and Toledo
  • The M-12 Madrid airport link road
  • The Madrid outer suburban ‘radial’ highways, the R-2, R-3, R-4 and R-5.

Minister for public works José Luis Ábalos says his department plans to encourage use of these motorways. They will be more attractive to motorists with the convenience of avoiding town roads and single-carriageway highways. Despite prices dropping, Ábalos expects the government to rake in more from these motorways, which will fund their maintenance.

It is also planned that there will be full structural inspections on all motorway bridges, in light of the collapse in Italy earlier in the autumn and repair strategies for the 66 defects picked up during surveys of 23,000 of these bridges.

Motorways bought back from toll companies will be free of charge between midnight and 6am and discounts will be offered for frequent users. 

Maternity and Paternity Leave Income Tax To Be Refunded

Income tax deducted from maternity and paternity leave will be refunded after a Supreme Court ruling that these contributory State benefits are exempt. Tax Minister, María Jesús Montero, pledged to refund all Income Tax, or IRPF, deducted from maternity and paternity pay for every child born since 2013 inclusive.

According to consumer protection organisation OCU, typical amounts refunded are expected to be around €1,000 to €2,600 per child. It is also payable for adoption or fostering leave and relates to all maternity and paternity payments, not just those directly from the State, but also from those town councils or regional governments which offer a top-up.

Zaragoza Cyclist Rescued In Siberia 

A cycling enthusiast from Zaragoza was rescued just in time after suffering frostbite in Siberia.

José Andrés Abián, 48, a caretaker and always hungry for adventure and challenge by nature, decided to cycle the 4,000km across Russia’s sparsely-populated eastern wilderness. He attempted to complete his route between Magadan and Lake Baikal, grappling with temperatures as low as -50ºC, when he started to feel very weak and fatigued. The explorer said he took off one of his mittens to be able to erect his tent more quickly and the exposed hand immediately froze up. By the time he was rescued, the hand was still a block of ice and frostbite was also starting to set into his legs.

José Andrés is now fully recovered. Nobody had been able to identify him at first until a video taken by a local cycling group showed ‘a man in winter clothes travelling by bicycle along a snow-covered road from Magadan along the Kolyma highway’. 

Rape and Murder Of Huelva Teacher 

The body of 26-year-old high school teacher Laura Luelmo was found among the rushes not far from her home in El Campillo (Huelva province).

Laura, from Zamora (Castilla y León) had only recently moved to El Campillo to take up a job teaching, and reportedly told her boyfriend on the phone that she felt ‘uncomfortable’ about one of her neighbours, a man aged 50 who was ‘constantly leering at her’ and would even put a chair in his doorway to ogle her whenever she passed.

Laura vanished after going out for a run.  Her body was discovered and it turned out she had died from a severe blow to the head – at least two or three days after she disappeared. She may have been unconscious for this time after her injuries were inflicted.

Police initially suspected Luciano Montoya, 50, thought to be the ‘ogling’ neighbour, but he had been in prison in Ocaña (Toledo province) on the day Laura went missing. They then investigated his identical twin brother, Bernardo, who turned out to be the man Laura felt ‘uncomfortable’ about.

Bernardo Montoya had been released from prison two months earlier after serving a sentence of two years and 10 months for two violent muggings against women in 2015. He had also served 17 years and nine months for murder. In 1995, he had broken into the home of an 82-year-old lady and burgled the property. He later went back and murdered the elderly occupant, forcing open a window and stabbing her in the back and neck with a machete while she was in bed.

Sentenced in 1997, he was given leave in 2008, during which he attacked a 27-year-old woman walking through a park in El Campillo and also stabbed her dog who successfully prevented his owner being assaulted. The dog was badly injured but survived.  The attacker was sentenced to a further 18 months for threats.

Bernardo was a cocaine and heroin addict and his twin brother Luciano has been convicted of various violent crimes against women.

The second suspect confessed to Laura’s murder, saying he ‘tried to rape her’, then hit her on the head and left her in the undergrowth, but insists she was alive when he last saw her.

Spain is statistically one of Europe’s, if not the world’s, safest countries, with a very low violent crime rate. Laura’s death came just two weeks before the anniversary of another high-profile murder and attempted sexual assault; that of 18-year-old Diana Quer, who was abducted and strangled by a would-be rapist, a total stranger, who threw her naked body down a well in a Galicia warehouse.