AoS ‘wrong about fruit-based snacks’ – nutritionists

By Nicholas Robinson contact

- Last updated on GMT

High sugary foods are being partially blamed for the UK's obesity epidemic
High sugary foods are being partially blamed for the UK's obesity epidemic

Related tags: Nutrition

Action on Sugar’s (AoS’s) latest research into fruit-based snacks masks useful nutritional information, confusing parents and potentially stopping children from having healthier treats, nutritionists have warned.

Parents were being misled into buying fruit-based snacks, which it claimed were packed with ‘hidden sugars’, with some containing more sugars per 100g than sweets, according to AoS.

A sample of 94 fruit-based snacks aimed at children showed 80 contained more sugars than a bag of Haribo Starmix, AoS’s research said.

Products such as The Fruit Factory’s Sports Mix-Ups contained 81g of sugar per 100g, which was the equivalent of 3.6 teaspoons of sugar per serving, it claimed.

‘Part of your five-a-day’

However, Barbara Gallani, director of regulation, science and health at the Food and Drink Federation, said: “Dried and puréed fruit and vegetables count as part of your five-a-day under government guidance, alongside fresh, tinned and frozen.

Kawther Hashem, nutritionist at AoS:

“It’s high time food manufacturers stop adding unnecessary sugars and calories to already sweet products. Check the label and if in doubt - eat fresh fruit. Ready-sliced fruit in snack pots are better than processed fruit snacks.
“To eat the same number of grams of sugars in a processed fruit snack (18g) your child will have to eat about 240g of strawberries – that’s equivalent to a whole punnet!”

“About two thirds of the fruit snacks surveyed contain no added sugars and of the third that do, far from being ‘hidden’, this is clearly listed on-pack in the ingredients panel.”

Everyone knew that fruit contained sugar and the total sugar content on fruit snacks was clearly and consistently listed on pack, she added. “Parents can use this information to compare and choose between products.”

Fruit-based snacks were correctly positioned as a healthier alternative to confectionery, said one of the UK’s leading nutritionists Dr Carrie Ruxton.

Not more than one portion of a child’s five-a-day should come from fruit-based snacks, advice that also applies to fruit smoothies, she added.

‘Not misleading’

“It is not misleading to include fruit-based snacks as an option, particularly when they are being positioned as a healthier option to confectionery, not as an alternative to fresh fruit,” ​Ruxton said.

Katherine Teague, head of advocacy at AB Sugar:

It is worrying that people still think that sugars can be hidden. The reality is that manufacturers are required by law to provide nutritional information on all pre-packaged foods and drinks found in the UK, and to suggest otherwise could further confuse consumers.”

Fruit-based snacks gave parents the option to include fruit in a child’s diet when it was difficult to serve fresh fruit, National Health Service dietician Catherine Collins said.

“Fruit is a good low-calsnack. For many parents, messiness and ‘in the field’ preparation is an issue,” ​she told FoodManufacture.co.uk on Twitter.

All food products, including sugar-added dried fruit products, listed ingredients and total sugars on their labels, which made it simple for parents to choose lower sugar options, she added.

Meanwhile, of AoS’s latest research, Collins said: “AoS is always label trawling for shock-horror top-line quotes, which masks useful info.”

Product

Sugars (g)
per 100g

Sugars (g)
per serving

Tsp sugar
per serving

The Fruit Factory
Sports Mix-Ups 5x18g

81.0

14.6

3.6

Tesco Yogurt Coated
Strawberry Fruit Bites 25g

70.1

17.5

4.4

Fruit Bowl Fruit Flakes
Raspberry Rush 25g

69.0

17.3

4.3

Whitworths Sunny Raisin
Custard Coated Raisins

68.8

17.2

4.3

Organix Goodies Organic Fruit
Gummies Strawberry & Apple 12g

67.2

8.1

2.0

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1 comment

Fruit, sugar and snacking

Posted by Amanda Kendal,

There is a reason that dietary advice to diabetics includes advice on not consuming large amounts of fresh and processed fruits and fruit juice.

However, most people see something that says 'fruit' and assume that it's healthy because, as we know fruit is, err, healthy per se.

Similarly, if they see 'low fat' on a yogurt, they assume it's healthy per se because we've been taught that low-fat is healthy per se.

They see things and, based on a general understanding of what has been the mainstream nutritional advice for 40-plus years, they assume that they are making healthy and responsible choices. They don't realise that, if they check the small print, they'll find, for instance, sugar added to that low-fat yogurt because removing the fat removes the flavour.

Or they do not realise that just snacking on fruit – fresh or processed – all day is not a synonym for a healthy diet that will keep you safe from certain medical conditions.

And the current trend in 'healthy snacking' is illustrative of how the industry should be treated with great caution when it talks of 'health', since the snacking culture is very much part of the UK's problem, whether it's fruit, nuts, seeds or a chocolate bar.

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