'Breakfast biscuits no healthier than Coco Pops' - the industry responds

Action on Sugar study compared sugar content of Coco Pops and biscuits

Belvita owner Mondelēz International has said a UK study claiming breakfast biscuits may be “no healthier for you than a bowl of Kellogg’s Coco Pops” has ignored the full nutritional profile of its products.

The report by campaigning group Action on Sugar, which aims to encourage the food industry and government to reduce sugar levels in processed food, looked at 39 breakfast biscuits sold in major UK supermarkets.

Examining a single serving of biscuits – taken by Action on Sugar as the amount of biscuits in a single pouch, which can range from one to four biscuits – almost half (46%) of the biscuits examined contain more than the 11g of sugar in a 30g bowl of Kellogg’s Coco Pops. And it found that:

  • 92% of products contain more sugar per serving than the 7g in a 30g bowl of Nestlé Toffee Crisp Cereal
  • 82% of products contain more sugar per serving than the 8.7g in a 30g bowl of Honey Monster Puffs Cereal.

Among the products flagged up as particularly high in sugar on a per-serving basis were Lidl Sondey Envitas Breakfast Biscuits, various Belvita products and McVitie's Breakfast Fruit & Oat Bakes (see table below).

'Packaging is misleading'

Action on Sugar also claimed serving size information on breakfast biscuit packaging was misleading. It said Belvita gives nutrition information for a single biscuit on the front of pack although each serving pouch – which it said most consumers assume is one serving - contains two to four biscuits

If we really want the health of the nation to improve the food industry needs to produce and promote healthier breakfast options that are lower in sugar and higher in fiber with accurate front of pack nutrition labeling,” said registered nutritionist and Action on Sugar researcher Kawther Hashem.

'Report is quite selective'

Mondelēz – which said it never claimed Belvita was the healthiest breakfast option available – said it believed the report “is quite selective as it simply focuses on a single nutrient”. 

“It ignores the health claim and the full nutritional profile of Belvita, which has many positives including being a source of wholegrain, cereals, fiber, vitamins and minerals,” said a spokesperson. “We offer a range of options, each individually wrapped as a portion to deliver appropriate and controlled calories for breakfast.”

Mondelēz added it was the only breakfast biscuit to have a European Commission approved health claim, that “Consumption of foods high in slowly digestible starch raises blood glucose concentration less after a meal compared to foods low in slowly digestible starch”.

Coco Pops owner Kellogg pointed out that 30g of the cereal was equivalent to 12% of the Reference Intake of sugar – adding that its own Nutri Grain Granola Crunch biscuits were among the lowest sugar option in the Action on Sugar study.

Lidl: will support government-led initiatives

Lidl, meanwhile, said it supported any “government-led initiatives that positively impact on our customers”.

“We are fully focused on supporting our customers to lead a healthier lifestyle and recognize that sugar content is an industry-wide issue,” said the retailer, adding that it been discussing solutions with industry partners. It said the UK government’s Childhood Obesity Strategy, due to be published this summer, would be “ vital” in informing its strategy on sugar reduction.

Action on Sugar has urged the government to include reformulation and clearer guidance on labeling as part of the Childhood Obesity Strategy.

BakeryandSnacks has contacted McVitie's maker Pladis for comment and is awaiting a response.

Action on Sugar Breakfast Biscuits Survey 2016

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