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

Wendyl Nissen: Special K investigation

By Wendyl Nissen

Special K Original $5.29 for 300g. Photo / Supplied
Special K Original $5.29 for 300g. Photo / Supplied

A recent controversy over Special K porridge advertising in the UK alerted me to this cereal. Maker Kellogg's was ordered to amend adverts describing the porridge as "full of goodness" and "nutritious" after that country's Advertising Standards Agency found the claims could not be adequately backed up.

A quick look at the cereal box here would leave you feeling you were eating something that was very good for you. It is made with three grains, is 99 per cent fat free and is a "source of protein and fibre".

Special K Original $5.29 for 300g.

Ingredients (in order of greatest quantity first)

Rice (42%)

This shows that most of the cereal flakes are made out of rice.

Wholegrains (24%) (whole wheat, wholegrain oat flour)

These are the other two grains: wheat and oat in flour form. The total cereal component of this food is 66 per cent.

Wheat gluten

Gluten is a naturally occurring protein in grains like wheat, which some people are allergic to. I'm not sure why it has been added in here but it is probably for texture.

Sugar

The amount of sugar is quite high. On its own you will get 5.8g per 40g serving, but most people would have it with milk, which adds more sugar. Compare this to Ricies (popped rice) with just 3.4g per 40g serve (without milk) and porridge with just 0.4g of sugar per 40g serve (without milk). A 100ml serve of light blue milk will give you a further 4.8g of sugar. Add this to all three cereals and you get: Special K with 100ml light blue milk: 10.6g sugar. Ricies with 100ml light blue milk: 8.2g sugar. Porridge made with oats plus 100ml light blue milk: 5.3g sugar.

Minerals (calcium carbonate, iron, zinc oxide)

These will be in here for added nutrition

Oat fibre

This helps bring the fibre level of this cereal to 2.6g per 40g serve. Ricies will give you 0.4 g of fibre per 40g serve and porridge made with oats will give you 3.6g.

Salt

You will get just 144mg of sodium per 40g serve.

Barley malt extract

This is sweet and will be in for added flavour.

Vitamins (niacin, vitamin B6, riboflavin, thiamin, folate)

These will be added for extra nutrition.

My recommendations:

Special K certainly has many vitamins and minerals added for nutrition so I think the nutrition claim is fine. It does, however, have more sugar than other cereals like porridge made with oats and Ricies. It has some fibre but less than porridge.

If you have the time make porridge, it's low in sugar, high in fibre and low in salt. If you don't have time then try to find a cereal which has less sugar.

Highlights

• More sugar than Ricies and porridge.

• Added vitamins and minerals for nutrition.

• Some fibre but not as much as porridge.

• Only 66 per cent cereals.

- NZ Herald

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