Liquid breakfast row: Reaction

Industry hits back at criticism of Australian liquid breakfast claims

By RJ Whitehead

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Nutrition

Industry hits back at criticism of Australian liquid breakfast claims
Manufacturers and industry groups have slammed an Australian consumer watchdog’s assertion that nutritional claims on the packs of some liquid breakfasts are “shonky”.

Earlier this week, Choice released a study saying that packaging of products such as Sanitarium’s Up & Go and Kellogg’s breakfast drinks contained unreasonable claims.

Shonky claims on liquid breakfasts such as ‘high in fibre’, ‘fibre for digestive health’ and ‘goodness of three grains’ is a cause for concern​,” said Choice’s Tom Godfrey. “Liquid breakfasts have on average 1.5% fibre, which is well below the 10% benchmark for high fibre. It is grains away from the 39.5% fibre offered by some bran cereals​.”

‘Misleading rubbish’

However, the industry has criticised Choice’s research, calling into question its metrics and citing current legislation, which it says was not considered by the watchdog.

They suggest Choice has confused the regulations that allow another three years for manufacturers to implement a new code of standards.

Where was the balance​?” asked Katherine Rich, chief executive of the New Zealand Food and Grocery Council, referring to FoodNavigator-Asia’s report.

The initial Australian story creates a false impression and is misleading rubbish. Food companies have until 2016 – I repeat, 2016 – to comply with the new health standard​.

All the foods discussed currently comply with Australian and New Zealand food laws. There is nothing ‘shonky’ about current claims. Regulators always give transition times as food companies can't miraculously make changes overnight​.” 

Under discussion

Rich added that any changes to the code are still a matter for debate as fibre levels for the new health standard are still being discussed and could change further.

If breakfast drinks had the 39.5% fibre level Choice seems to be demanding, it would be impossible to drink them​.”

(Read Rich's full rebuttal here​)

Sanitarium has also hit back, asserting that its products meet the standard set by the Code of Practice on Nutrient Claims (CoPoNC), set by FSANZ’s predecessor. The company has stated that a food product must contain no less than 3g of fibre per serve to comply with the requirements for a “high in fibre​” claim.

Sanitarium Up & Go fibre content of 3.8 grams is well in excess of the CoPoNC code of practice requirement to enable a ‘high fibre’ content claim​,” said Michelle Reid, nutritionist for Sanitarium.

If liquid breakfasts contained 20 per cent fibre, as Choice proposes for a high-fibre claim, there would be 50 grams of fibre per serve – which is almost double the recommended daily intake – and no doubt inedible. It would be like eating 1.5 loaves of wholegrain bread a day​.”

Have your say: What do you think about Choice's "shonky" claims? Do you credit the industry's assertions? Let us know in the box below.

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3 comments

Reviews of liquid breakfasts

Posted by catherine saxelby,

As a nutritionist, I've just posted reviews of two new liquid breakfast on the Foodwatch.com.au website. I found them to have the nutrition of a low-fat flavoured milk drink and compared favourably to other such drinks already out there. They ARE high in fibre meeting the current 3g per serve cut-off but the fibre is often derived from inulin or oat fibre (?oat bran) which is not the same as wheat bran or wholegrain cereal. But still fibre. I can't understand the sudden outrage at these products - Up&Go has been around for 15 years and sold 34 mill packs in 2012! Why has no-one singled it out for criticism before this? I'd rather a child drank a milk product like this for breakfast than the more usual bag of crisps and soft drink on the way to school. Yes they're not a wholesome as a bowl of wholegrain cereal but they're way ahead of what's being consumed as 'breakfast' now.

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Liquid Breakfast

Posted by John,

These products are rather a fad. To call them " High Fibre " is rather stretching it !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Choice claims

Posted by Jon,

Choice is well known for creating (misery loves company) storylines designed to grab attention, but which are often short on facts, short on objectivity, short on neutrality. Perhaps time someone investigated Choice and it's shonky journalism.

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