Claire Trevett

Claire Trevett is the New Zealand Herald’s deputy political editor.

Breakfast wars erupt after pot-shot from children's cereal firm

By CLAIRE TREVETT

Cereal magnate Dick Hubbard has accused a competitor of dirty tactics over children's breakfasts.

Mr Hubbard took offence at an apparent attempt by Sanitarium Health Foods to discredit his products following a consumer survey which did not include Hubbards.

The Australian Consumers Association tested the nutritional value of 188 cereals and found most aimed at children had too much sugar and too little fibre.

None of the children's cereals was good, and only one, Sanitarium's Honey Puffs, was deemed "okay" by the consumer watchdog.

Sanitarium sent out a press release comparing its Honey Puffs with Hubbards cereals, Honey Bumbles and Bugs 'n' Mud.

"Hubbards cereals were not assessed in the report as they are not widely sold in Australia. However, an assessment of the nutritional panels on Hubbards children's cereals indicate they too would have received the 'thumbs down'," it said.

Mr Hubbard, who founded Hubbard Foods, was shocked by what he saw as "a deliberate attempt to denigrate our products".

It was part of Hubbard Food's code of practice never to comment on another cereal company's products.

"It's not a moral or ethical position to take," he said.

Hubbard products were thoroughly assessed every five years, and advice sought from independent nutritionists.

"We put in a lot of care and attention to that side of things ... I would be aghast if Sanitarium was suggesting we weren't being nutritionally responsible," Mr Hubbard said.

But Sanitarium nutritionist Kim Stirling said the ACA tests showed Honey Puffs were a "genuinely healthier option than most other alternative treat cereals".

"We are concerned from a health perspective that less nutritious products are becoming big sellers and want to see the facts put in front of people so that they can make informed, healthy choices."

The ACA report found most children's cereals were "highly processed, sugar-laden, fibre flimsy".

Wheat biscuits and porridge were recommended as good cereals.

Herald Feature: Health

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