Their latest review of 224 cereal, muesli, nut, seed and raw snack bars found some products were packed with added sugars but masked their contents with references to “natural” ingredients such as fruit and yoghurt.
“Some products contain ‘fruit’ that owes more to chemistry than agriculture, despite what pictures of freshly cut strawberries, plump raspberries or sliced apples on the packaging might have you believe. This is only revealed if you pay close attention to the ingredients list,” said investigative journalist, Rachel Clemons in a post on the group’s website.
Clemons also emphasised the role of health star ratings in helping consumers make healthier choices and how manufacturers are avoiding it by putting HSR only on healthy products.
Two of the products that received the highest HSR among cereal and muesli bars (4.5 stars) and also met Choice’s criteria for energy and wholegrains per serve are Goodness Superfoods Better for U cereal bars wild berries & yoghurt and Uncle Toby’s farmer’s pick roasted macadamia & almond.
Among those with lowest HSR (1 star) are Fontelle oven baked mini meal choc chip, Carman’s oat slice Belgian chocolate brownie and Kellogg’s nutri-grain bars.
Obesity Policy Coalition (OPC) earlier this year reviewed HSR use on snack bars. Jane Martin, OPC executive manager said, “At a time when 63 per cent of Australian adults and 27 per cent of children are overweight or obese, it’s disappointing that so many food companies are not supporting consumers with the information they need to make healthier choices for themselves and their families.”