Misleading advertising part 2Posted: October 25, 2007
The Fruit Loops were delicious, to the extent the carton found the bin before I could cut out the nutrition panels. The kids cleaned them up, as you would expect as this product is clearly marketed for children. However at first appearances Kellogg somehow seem to be unaware of this as you can see below. Their new %DI (daily intake) labelling for this product is also based on on “an average adult diet of 8700kJ”.
The question here is, why an adult? So I followed the link to the website and check out the DIY %DI. The link didn’t really get me close and after some stumbling around I found the correct page.
From here we can find a link to FAQ’s which amazingly answers this question!
“Why have you based the %DI on adults for all brands? Shouldn’t you be using %DI for children on the kid’s brands? The Food Standards Code for Australia and New Zealand defines the values that can be used on food labels. For example the Recommended Dietary Intakes value for each vitamin and mineral is defined within the code and it represents the value for an average male. A similar approach has been taken with Daily Intake values for macronutrients which are based on an average adult energy intake of 8700kJ .”
And there it is, they are told to do this by a standards code. To get around this weirdness (ok to be fair it does allow fair comparison across products) Kellogg have put up their own %DI calculator on the page I mention above. This is actually a pretty good tool, although it would be nice to have cereals other than only their own as it misses things like oats and muesli.
So we can work out little Johny and Mary’s daily energy requirement from this and even put in a sample whole days food with a reasonable range which is all good. However we still get back to the image below and it’s “13.8%” value total sugars for a 30gm serve. So the argument comes down to whether this is really a better system than the nutrition information on the side of the box? The fact that this energy use comes from sugar is not really an issue if the kids burn it off running around and playing sport. My kids do and they are pretty slim however we also try not to eat a lot of junk. So this system will work providing people bother accessing the website and learning about nutrition, actually do sport and the science that Kellogg use is valid. The first two of these items we sure couldn’t assume to be correct but the 3rd must be correct?
Well IMHO, no. It’s all complex and the one reference to total energy requirement for an adult, the 8700kL figure, is here. As you can see, this is from the ABS and is the results from a survey. Not, how much adults should eat but how much they do. And going by the level of adult obesity in Australia I’d say the value is way too high.
Furthermore the individual reference values that Kellogg use come from ‘National Health and Medical Research Council (1991). Recommended Dietary Intakes for use in Australia. AGPS, Canberra.’ Looking at this document we find it was actually been rescinded in September 2005! The website gives clear guidelines to not use this document. The correct document to use is here and wasn’t very difficult to find. The values are more up to date and changes to iron and folate requirements have been included, amongst many other things, to bring it up to date and represent the best scientific knowledge.
The new values for say a 6 year old are 5800 and 5400kJ for a boy or girl not doing sport, nothing like the 8700 kJ shown on the pack at first glance. Furthermore the serving size is 30gm and I’d suggest that is about half of what a kid would really eat. Looking at the nutrition information on the pack we see this:
So if we double the packs energy we get close to what we calculate off the nutrition label but even with that we only have 11.2% daily energy requirement? However by my calculation this 1000kJ is more like 17-19% of %DI for a young child based on the currently correct factors for DI, not the clearly obvious 5.6%.
So even though Kellogg correctly follow the law on the required nutrition label, itself flawed as it is based on an adult, when it comes to their own method “to help you cut through the confusion” they base it on incorrectly applied and out of date science. Whether this is deliberate, for there surely is a motive to make these products appear more healthy, or through ignorance or incompetence is a mystery.
Kellogg surely know that children generally eat their sugary cereals and they have no reason to not know the latest recommendation’s from the Government on energy intake. It’s a pity that under the veneer of caring on their website and packaging there is a pretty obvious stuff up. And it isn’t rocket science to perform a survey and see how much cereal kids really eat. If they want to add additional nutrition information to their packaging and websites that is well and good however being sloppy with the science has no excuse in such a large company.