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Fruit fortified snacks appeal to children, finds study

By Kacey Culliney , 16-Jan-2013
Last updated on 16-Jan-2013 at 11:59 GMT

Could fruit powders be the future to kid's snacking?
Could fruit powders be the future to kid's snacking?

Fruit powders incorporated into extruded snacks improve the nutritional profile and are well accepted by children in terms of taste and appearance, finds study.

A study published in the LWT Journal of Food Science and Technology established that extruded snacks containing fruit powders have increased fiber content and lowered fat and salt levels.

“The resulting products had an improved nutritional profile compared with other extruded snack products,” the researchers wrote.

Nutritional value was compared against two savory extruded snacks popular with children – Wotsits and Quavers made by Walkers Snack Foods. The nutritional profile was also matched against UK Food Standards Agency (FSA) guidelines.

The fruit products did have higher sugar levels than the two branded snacks but this was attributed to the natural sugars present in fruit powders.

“Given that the milk powder made a contribution to the level of sugar, reformulation could be considered with less milk powder,” the researchers suggested.

Similarly, antioxidant content was lower after the extrusion process. The team recommended further work to establish a method to protect the antioxidants during processing.

A push for healthier children’s snacks

The study said there are opportunities to develop extruded snacks targeted at children with enhanced nutritional characteristics given the ongoing childhood health concerns and popular snacking culture.

Citing Mintel research, it said that snacking occurs on a day-to-day basis among children with six billion child based snacking occasion each year.

“It is evident that children’s diets fall short of dietary recommendations giving rise to concerns both for short-and long-term health. High fat, sugar and salt snacks are seen as a contributing factor to poor diet. Given the current concerns over the increasing rate of childhood obesity and the diet of children, including unhealthy snacking habits, an opportunity is seen for development of extruded snacks for children with enhanced nutritional characteristics. The key nutritional qualities of such a product would be one that is low in fat, sugar and salt, and high in fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants,” the researchers wrote.

The study aimed to develop such a snack based on nutritional guidelines from the FSA and British Nutrition Foundation.

Healthier but accepted?

Sensory analysis conducted with 42 children aged eight and nine from a UK primary school concluded that the fruit snacks were well accepted. Appearance and taste were scored four out of five by the panel.

Five different samples were prepared – apple, banana, strawberry, tangerine and a control made just from 30% wheat flour, 25% corn starch, 25% potato starch and 20% milk powder.

The fruit samples were prepared by adding fruit powder at a level of 11% of the control formulation.

Findings showed tangerine to be the ‘preferred flavor’, followed by the control flavor without fruit powders, strawberry, apple and banana.

Researchers said further work could be done to establish how varying levels of fruit powders impact the nutritional profile.

Source:  LWT Food Science and Technology
Available online ahead of print, doi: 10.1016/j.lwt.2012.11.015
“The use of fruit powders in extruded snacks suitable for Children’s diets”
Authors: R. Potter, V. Stojceska and A. Plunkett

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