CHOICE finds sugary truth behind kids cereals


CHOICE’s latest cereal review finds many still loaded with sugar and salt

In a review of 195 ready-to-eat cereals¹ CHOICE found 73% (30) of the 41 cereals marketed to children to be high in sugars. More than half of the kid’s cereals were low in fibre - most providing less than a gram per serve.

Aldi’s GoldenVale branded Honey Wheats, Choco Rice and Choco Pillows and Kellogg’s Frosties contain more than 40% sugar – the equivalent of three teaspoons per 30g serve.

“Whilst there have certainly been some nutritional improvements in breakfast cereals since our last review, too many still don’t deserve the healthy image that their marketing messages portray,” says CHOICE spokesperson, Ingrid Just.

CHOICE says that despite some cereal manufacturers delivering on a commitment to reduce salt levels in their products as members of the federal government’s Food and Health Dialogue, four of the eight saltiest cereals reviewed (containing at least 600mg sodium per 100g), are ones marketed to children.

“Kellogg’s has reduced the sodium levels in Cornflakes and Rice Bubbles  by 20%, Sanitarium has reduced the sodium of Skippy Corn Flakes by 25% and Aldi’s Goldenvale Breakfast Bubbles has recently had a 30% reduction in its sodium content – yet surprisingly  all four remain amongst the saltiest in our review,” says Ms Just.

For everyday eating CHOICE says the best cereals are those that are very high or high in fibre (or moderate fibre for kids) but don’t contain a lot of salt, sugar or saturated fat. ²

“All up we counted 36 out of the 195 reviewed that may be worth considering given their lower salt, suger and saturated fat levels with four standing out  from the crowd nutritionally; Abundant Earth Puffed Corn, Uncle Tobys Shredded Wheat, Healtheries Pufferbillies and Sanitarium Weet-Bix for kids,” says Ms Just.

Australians spent 1.7 billion dollars on ready to eat cereals in 2011, the equivalent of 10 large 750g boxes for every adult and child. ³

“A group of cereal manufacturers has recently launched the Australian Breakfast Cereal Manufacturers Forum with the aim to improve consumer’s understanding of the importance of breakfast and the role that breakfast cereals can play as part of the breakfast,”says Ms Just.

“However we think more energy should be devoted to reducing the sodium and sugar content of cereals, particularly those targeted at children,” says Ms Just.

CHOICE’s tips for finding a healthy breakfast cereal:

  1. Make it a priority to choose cereals that are high in fibre.
  2. Also look for cereals that have lower sugars, salt and saturated fat levels. In many cereals, dried fruits provide more than enough of the sugar content, without the need for added sweeteners.
  3. Base your decision on the per 100g nutrition information on the packet rather than the marketing. Claims such as ‘99% fat free’, ‘no artificial colours or flavours’ and ‘contains wholegrain’ can mask high levels of other less desirable ingredients.

-End-

Media contact: Ingrid Just, CHOICE, Head of Media and Spokesperson: 0430 172 669

¹Muesli was not included in the review as it is considered a separate category of cereal. CHOICE reviewed mueslis in August / September 2011. Porridge was not included as, apart from a few flavoured and sweetened varieties on the market, it’s simply cooked rolled oats. Any sugar and salt is what you add yourself.

² Nutrient criteria:

Fibre: Cereals are ranked by dietary fibre content, as you should be able to rely on cereal to make a real contribution to your daily fibre needs. Very high:  At least 20% fibre. High: 10%-19.9% fibre. Moderate: 5%-9.9% fibre. Low: Less than 5% fibre.

³ Retail World Grocery Guide 2012 Annual Report

⁴ http://www.afgc.org.au/organisation/forums.html

 

To read more on CHOICE tests, reviews and campaigns, go to choice.com.au.

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