The study, which is published in the December issue of Which? magazine, involved asking 394 parents what products they put in the lunchboxes of their primary-school-aged children. They also purchased brand-leading items that were of a size to fit into a lunch box.
Four in ten parents said they found it a challenge to assemble healthy lunch boxes. And products that at first glance appear to be healthy may not be so when you look more closely at the nutritional labels, it says.
Amongst the products criticised are Dairylea Lunchables Ham ‘n’ Cheese Crackers. One pack contains 1.8g of salt, more than half the daily allowance of a 4 – 6 year old; A 200ml Fruit Shoot Orange Juice Drink has 23g of sugar – almost five teaspoons; and Munch Bunch Double Up Fromage Frais has two teaspoons (12.4g) of sugar but only 2.25g of fruit purée.
Martyn Hocking, Editor, Which? magazine, said: “The best way to beat the lunchbox baddies is by checking the nutrition and ingredient information. We’d also like to see the rules on health and nutrition claims made tougher so that there’s less confusion on the supermarket shelves.”
Nutrition labelling is currently a topic of much debate, as recent FSA research found a method that combines colour coding with guidance daily amounts (GDAs) was of most use to consumers. Such a system was developed by some retailers, like Asda, while the FSA has previously favoured colour-coding through the ‘traffic light’ scheme.
Speaking for the food and beverage sector Julian Hunt, communications director of the FDF, said: “We haven't fully digested this particular magazine article, but on first reading it seems to be based on some flawed thinking and an apparently random survey.
“Retailers and manufacturers provide a wide variety of tasty products designed to fit a range of consumer needs and different eating occasions. Critically, we are also leading the way when it comes to the provision of clearer nutrition information on products – so that busy mums can make better informed choices about the food and drinks they want to buy for their families when in the supermarket.”