CHOICE angry over sugar-laden baby snacks

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 4th May 2016

ToddlerAustralian consumer advocacy group CHOICE has today named and shamed a number of baby snacks marketing health claims whilst containing up to 60 per cent sugar.

After reviewing 80 packaged baby and toddler snacks CHOICE said the majority made reference to fruit, vegetables, yoghurt or organic ingredients creating a “health halo” which was not always deserved.

CHOICE’s sugar-shaming list include:

  • Rafferty’s Garden Yoghurt Buttons (Mixed Berry) which is 93.5 per cent yoghurt, but sugar is the third ingredient in this yoghurt. CHOICE says this makes the product more than 60 per cent sugar
  • Heinz Little Kids Fruit & Chia Shredz says it is “naturally sweetened with fruit ingredients”. CHOICE has an issue with this as it is 35 per cent apple juice concentrate and one 18g serve contains the equivalent of more than three teaspoons of sugar.
  • Heinz Little Kids Wholegrain Cereal Bars Apple & Blueberry and Rafferty’s Garden Fruit Snack Bar Apple have more than 40 per cent total sugars according to CHOICE.
  • Kiddylicious Apple Fruit Wriggles claim to be ‘made with real fruit’, but the ingredients list reveals the bulk of the ‘real’ fruit is fruit juice concentrate and at $1.80 for a 12g pack ($150 per kilo), it costs a lot more than an 80c supermarket apple ($4.50 per kilo).

CHOICE also took issue with the vegetable content of Baby Mum-Mum First Rice Rusks Vegetable which contain kale, carrot, cabbage and spinach, but combined they make up less than 1.5 per cent of the product.

According to CHOICE’s Head of Media, Tom Godfrey, with foods boosting claims such as ‘naturally sweetened with fruit ingredients’ and lists of vegetables displayed,  parents can be easily fooled into thinking snacks are healthier than they are.

“A common practice is to sweeten products with fruit juice concentrate, an ingredient that sounds positively healthy but is simply a form of added sugar,” Godfrey said.

“Many baby snacks are also highly processed, containing little more than refined carbohydrates, which can be problematic for developing teeth,” he stated.

In response to CHOICE’s findings Rafferty’s Garden said it understood there were community concerns about the nutritional aspect of products made for children and accordingly, a balanced view on nutrition was required.

“We believe that our Yoghurt Buttons and Fruit Snack Bars have a place in the healthy diet of most children when included as part of children’s snacking repertoire in the recommended serving size,” Rafferty’s Garden said in a statement.

“It is important to note that one serve of our Rafferty’s Garden snack range has approximately half the sugar of a tablespoon of sultanas, a food that is also rich in natural sugars and one that most parents would not consider restricting in their children’s diet,” the statement said.

Australian Food News attempted to contact the other food brands mentioned in this story but did not receive a response prior to publication.

UPDATE 6/5/2016: Since the publication of this article Kiddylicious has responded to Australian Food News’ request for comment saying it is committed to providing portion controlled snacks to children which are healthier than confectionery and chips.

“Kiddylicious fruit products such as Apple Wriggles are made from 100% real fruit and only contain naturally occurring sugar; we simply drive off water from naturally occurring fruit sugars to create delicious and convenient snacks.  Each portion controlled pack of Apple Wriggles contains 7.3g of naturally occurring sugar.  In comparison, an average medium sized fresh apple contains 10.4g of sugar. A pack of our Apple Wriggles therefore contains 30% less sugar than a fresh apple but the same mineral benefits specifically calcium, iron and potassium. By adding significant amounts of fibre to our snacks, the rapid release of fruit sugars into the bloodstream is delayed.  Kiddylicious products have a low glycemic load, meaning sugar levels in the blood do not rise significantly when eaten, so the children experience no sugar rush,” a Kiddylicious statement said.