Salt in kids' food

Finding low-salt kids' foods might be harder than you think.
 
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02.Daily dose of salt

Crispix

A salty start to the day

If you think breakfast cereals are an odd source of salt, you may be surprised to learn Kellogg’s Crispix Honey Cereal, Coles Rice Puffs, Woolworths Homebrand Rice Pops and Aldi Goldenvale Breakfast Bubbles are all high in sodium. A further 22 of the 36 cereals we looked at have moderate sodium levels, including a few Kellogg’s favourites – Rice Bubbles, Coco Pops and Froot Loops. For a detailed analysis of children’s cereals see our children's cereals review

Salt in snacks

Of the 64 savoury snacks we looked at:

  • 1 product (Heinz Little Kids Tomato Mini Corn Cakes) has low sodium
  • 66% of snacks are high in sodium.

Some products, such as Rice Wheels and Wholegrain Corn Tubes in chicken and nacho flavours from Healtheries Kidscare, are high in sodium yet marketed as healthy. Woolworths Mini Macro Organic Cheese Corn Chips deserve a mention for their saltiness, despite advertising that focuses on otherwise “healthy” aspects of the product, such as the use of organic corn and no artificial colours, flavours or preservatives. 

Cheese and crackers Le-Snack

Pre-packaged cheese dips and crackers, which are targeted at kids’ lunchboxes, are some of the worst offenders in the category. Kraft Cheese Snackabouts in original and chicken flavours, and the Coles French onion snack packs, have more than 1200mg of sodium per 100g (that’s double what we consider to be high). Woolworths Homebrand Cheese Dip and Crispbread, Kraft Cheesybite Snackabouts and Uncle Tobys Le Snak all have more than 1000mg/100g. 

Of the nine cheese snacks we looked at:

  • 9 were high in salt
  • 4 have more than double the sodium of regular Bega cheddar cheese.

The Kraft products – Cheestiks, Cheestick Wedges, Pods Girlz and Pods Bots – were the worst performers in this category. 

Biscuits and lunchbox barsLCMs

Is it really necessary for salt to creep into sweet snacks aimed at children? In the category of biscuits and sweet lunchbox bars:

  • 4 products (Lolly Gobble Bliss Bombs caramel popcorn, Mini Oreo biscuits, and Mr Munchies My Little Pony and Scooby Doo cookies) have more sodium per 100g than Parkers Pretzels, which are studded with salt crystals.
  • 57 of 70 products we chose have moderate salt levels. 

Spreads

While not directly aimed at children, spreads often end up on their sandwiches. We checked the salt levels in these spreads and found some big differences between similar products. Sanitarium Natural Peanut Butter has 8mg/100g sodium compared with the Kraft crunchy option, which has more than 80 times this amount at 647mg/100g, while Woolworths Choc Hazelnut Spread has three times more sodium per 100g than Nutella. Meanwhile, Vegemite is about three times saltier than sea water.

Dinner overloadYummy-meals

An increasing number of pre-prepared kids’ dinners are appearing on supermarket shelves. Of the 62 products we reviewed:

  • 3 are high in sodium
  • 39 have moderate sodium levels
  • 20 are low in sodium.

Woolworths Yummy Meals Spaghetti with Cannon Balls has 821mg of sodium per serve, just shy of the upper daily intake limit for a three year old, and more than half the upper daily recommendation for children four to eight years old. Latina Kids Cheese & Vegetable Mini Ravioli has moderate sodium levels, but the Latina sauce it’s recommended that you serve with it contains more than 1000mg sodium per serve. A serve of Hormels Kid’s Kitchen Spaghetti & Mini Meatballs in Tomato Sauce provides a four-to-eight-year-old with almost all their daily upper level of salt intake. 

Enjoying a few backyard barbecue favourites can also lead children to indulge in more salt than their daily recommended upper limit in just one meal. A serve of Woolworths Mini Macro Organic Beef Mini Sausages, two slices of white bread and a dash of tomato sauce comes in at 1134mg sodium. 

Maggi 2 Minute Noodles, a popular after-school snack or dinner option, also happens to be one of the worst offenders. A packet of the classic chicken flavour provides 1254mg, more than an eight year old’s recommended daily intake.

Too much salt in one day?

 

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