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.
“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-cal snack. 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.”
The Fruit Factory
Tesco Yogurt Coated
Fruit Bowl Fruit Flakes
Whitworths Sunny Raisin
Organix Goodies Organic Fruit