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Keywords:

  • food regulation;
  • food standards code;
  • nutrition information panel

Abstract

Aim:  To survey nutrient information and claims appearing on packets of breakfast foods (cereals, bars and drinks) and determine how they conform to dietary guidelines and labelling recommendations.

Methods:  A cross-sectional study based on data collected in August–September 2004 was conducted in a single large supermarket in metropolitan Melbourne. The main outcome measures are cost, nutrient content, fortification, nutrition and function-related claims. Nutrient content with current recommendations, stated versus calculated energy content and consistency of claims made with current regulations and guidelines were analysed.

Results:  One hundred and eighty-two cereals, 27 bars and 10 drinks were analysed. Only two of six breakfast cereal categories exhibited mean nutrient profiles concordant with present recommendations. Breakfast bars provide more total fat, saturated fat and sugar, while breakfast drinks provide more energy, sugar and sodium, than a serve of cereal eaten with full-cream milk. Bars and drinks were more expensive per gram of protein and per kilojoule than the breakfast cereals. On 15% of cereal labels, stated energy content differed by over 5% from that calculated from the given macronutrients. Fortification with vitamins and minerals was common. Nutrient claims were largely consistent with current regulations.

Conclusion:  This survey provides baseline data against which future changes in nutrient and health claims and patterns of fortification in breakfast foods may be measured.