Wendyl Wants To Know

Each week, Wendyl Nissen takes a packaged food item and decodes what the label tells you about its contents.

Wendyl wants to know: Fruit sugar best for tots in little doses

1 comment
Each week, Wendyl Nissen takes a packaged food item and decodes what the label tells you about its contents

Heinz Little Kids. Fruit & Veg Shredz - Berries Apple & Veg. $4.29 for 90g or 5 packs.
Heinz Little Kids. Fruit & Veg Shredz - Berries Apple & Veg. $4.29 for 90g or 5 packs.

As a snack food these look great for the little ones. The ingredients list boasts fruit and vegetables and they look like little shreds of gel the size of a matchstick.

Perfect for little hands to grasp. There are no preservatives, artificial colours or flavours and they are "99% fruit and veg" according to the packet.

But what about sugar? The fact that there is 68.7g (or 16 teaspoons of sugar) per 100g is a bit alarming.

Ingredients

Apple paste (36%) - These are mostly made up of apple which has been concentrated into a paste.

To do this at home you would peel the apple - losing some of the beneficial fibre and vitamins and then boil it down into a paste, losing water and concentrating the sugars.

Apple juice concentrate (31%) - A similar process has happened here - peeled then water taken off to concentrate the sugars.

Berry purees (12%) - [blackcurrant, strawberry, raspberry]Technically a puree would not involve any concentrating of the fruit, it would simply be blended until it is of a liquid consistency.

Sweetcorn puree (10%) - There's not a lot of veg in here. At 10% you're talking 1.8g per 18g packet, but the sweet flavour will help.

Pumpkin puree (10%) - Same as sweetcorn, about 1.8g, but a sweet flavour.

Citrus fibre - It's a bit ironic that the fibre which you would have found on the apples has been put back in here as citrus fibre. You'll get 1.1g per 18g packet

Gelling agent (fruit pectin) - This is to hold the fruit mix together, rather like jam.

Pectin is found naturally in some fruits.

Natural flavours - Good to see natural flavour here.

My recommendations

You're feeding your child a massive 12.4g of sugar (nearly three teaspoons) per 18g packet - that's nearly half the packet.

"But it's fruit sugar!" I hear you, and the manufacturers, say.

You are right, there is no added cane sugar in here so the sugar is fructose which is metabolised differently to cane sugar.

But, in fruit, fructose is found in small quantities. In processed foods like this the fructose is much more concentrated and in my opinion, any sugar at this level is not a great idea for children aged 1 to 3 years old, which is who this product is targeted at.

If you chopped up 100g of fresh apple into appealing little match-like sticks like this, you would be giving your child just 10g of sugar compared to 68.7g in 100g of this product.

You would also be giving them fibre, vitamins A and C and potassium and it is unlikely that your child could eat the nearly seven apples it would take them to reach the same level of sugar.

It should also be noted that 100g of fresh apple will give you 52 calories of energy compared to 346 calories for 100g of this product.

Sugar - including the increased use of high-fructose corn sugar in soda drinks and processed foods - is increasingly being held accountable for rising obesity and diabetes rates in Western countries like ours.

Highlights

• 68.7g of sugar in 100g of this product.

• No added preservatives, artificial flavours or colours.

• Uses fruit concentrate.

- NZ Herald

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