Natural flavours make this confectionery is a healthier treat for your friends and family.

Over the holidays I would by lying if I didn't admit that I stumbled across a bowl of Pascall's Fruit Bursts and really enjoyed quite a few of them. I was a kid who couldn't go past a Banana Bike, so chewy fruit lollies are a thing for me.

But, as often happens following large intakes of sugar I later had to wonder what was in them. And so I looked. And then I searched for a healthier alternative and found it.

Pascall Fruit Burst. $2.79 for 190g versus The Natural Confectionery Co. Smoothie Chews. $4.79 for 220g.

Pascall Fruit Burst

Ingredients (in order of greatest quantity first):

Glucose syrup

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This is a common ingredient in confectionery. It is a sugar made from a starch, usually corn but sometimes potatoes or wheat.

Sugar
These are lollies so you're going to expect a lot of sugar. Per 25g serve (about four of these lollies) you will get 13.9g of sugar, which is about 3.5 teaspoons.

Water
Vegetable oil
Not sure what oil is in here. These are not high in fat at less than 1g per 25g serve.

Flavours
There is no mention of natural flavouring here and it does say on the front of the pack "artificial fruit flavoured confectionery" so these will contain artificial flavours. The flavours are strawberry, banana, lemon & lime, orange and wildberry.

Colours (124,102,110,133)
These colours are not good. Three of them Ponceau4R (124),Tartrazine (102) and Sunset Yellow (110) were included in a 2007 study published by researchers from Southampton University on the effect of a combination of certain artificial food colours and sodium benzoate on childhood behaviour.

The study supported a possible link between the consumption of these artificial colours and a sodium benzoate preservative and increased hyperactivity in children.

UK Ministers and the UK Food Standards Authority encouraged food manufacturers to comply with a voluntary ban on these colours. Subsequent to this a European Union-wide compulsory warning ("may have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children") must now be put on any food and drink product that contains any of these colours.

In New Zealand our Food Standards Authority allows these colours in our food and drinks.
The fourth colour Brilliant Blue (133) an artificial colour which has been the topic of many studies, most recently by the European Food Safety Authority.

The Natural Confectionery Company Smoothie Chews

Ingredients (in order of greatest quantity first):

Cane sugar

These are lollies so there is a lot of sugar in here, more than in Pascall's Fruit Burst. You will get 16.7g per 25g (or three lollies) serve.

Glucose syrup
As above.

Vegetable oil
Not sure what oil is in here but you will get less than 1g fat per 25g serve.

Food acid (citric)
This is a natural product and will be in here possibly for flavour or as a preservative.

Gelatine
This is a natural product which is the main ingredient in jellies. It will be in these for texture.

Natural flavours
Nice to see natural flavours here used to create the four flavours: apple & raspberry, mixed berry, strawberry & banana and mango & passionfruit.

Natural colours extracted from fruit, vegetables and plants (anthocyanin, elderberry, turmeric, chlorophyll, paprika oleoresin, beta carotene).

Great to see the producers have bothered to go the trouble of using natural colours, but that is also reflected in the price.

My recommendations:

I think it is worth paying a little extra to make sure that when you're giving your friends, family or colleagues a treat you are making sure it is as natural as possible. Both these products are made in Thailand so there is no "buying local" argument to be had here.

Highlights:

• Pascall's Fruit Bursts have artificial flavours and colours.
• The Natural Confectionery Company uses natural flavours and colours.
• Both are made in Thailand.