World Action on Salt & Health

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• Over half of cereals (58%) contained high levels of sugar (over 22.5g/100g) – nearly 6 teaspoons of sugar per 100g
• Not one single product featured contained low levels of sugar
• The UK leads the way with SALT reduction BUT still has a way to go with SUGAR reduction – Kellogg’s Frosties contains a whopping 9 teaspoons of sugar/100g
• 98 out of 291 (34%) of cereals surveyed were above the 2017 UK salt target for breakfast cereals
• WASH calls on breakfast cereal manufacturers to reduce the salt and sugar of its products to the lowest levels across all countries

Full data set available ?here? [PDF 500KB]

Full media coverage here 

Findings from a NEW survey (Ref 1) by World Action on Salt and Health (WASH) has revealed a shocking difference in levels of salt and sugar found in the SAME branded breakfast cereals sold around the world.
The survey, which selected 19 products manufactured by Kellogg’s and Nestle/General Mills from 29 countries for comparison found over half of the cereals analysed (58%) have high levels of sugar, with 55% (Ref 2) of the cereals surveyed containing half the daily recommended intake of free sugars of a 3 year old (15g/day) in one serving (Ref 3).

The top 5 cereals with the highest sugar:

The top 5 cereals with the lowest sugar:

In the UK, the product with the most sugar (out of all the UK products surveyed) is Kellogg’s Frosties at 37g/100g – over 9 teaspoons of sugar! That’s over half (58%) of the recommended maximum free sugar intake for a 4-6 year old in just one bowl (30g serving).
For salt, over a third (34%) of all global cereals contained levels above the UK Government’s 2017 salt target for breakfast cereals (Ref 4).  In the UK, just 2 products were still above the salt target; Kellogg’s Rice Krispies and Kellogg’s Corn Flakes at 1.13g/100g, demonstrating the success of the UK’s salt reduction programme.

The top 5 cereals brands with the highest salt content include:

The top 5 cereals with the lowest salt content were:

Both manufacturers had cereals which contained high levels of salt and sugar, with Kellogg’s cereals featuring in our top 5 most sugary and saltiest cereals surveyed. The survey revealed not only hidden sugars and salt in breakfast cereals, but also the HUGE variation in salt and sugar contents of the same breakfast cereal sold in different countries.  For example, Kellogg’s Honey Smacks in Mexico (57g per 100g) had 25% more sugar than the same cereal in Belgium, Spain, Morocco, Norway, Qatar, Kuwait and UAE (43g/100g). Kellogg’s Cornflakes sold in India which contained the highest level of salt (1.93g/100g) had 46% more salt than the same product in Argentina and Brazil (1.04g/100g).

WASH is now calling for ALL food manufacturers to universally reduce the salt and sugar content of their products to help achieve the global WHO maximum target of 5g salt per adult per day and 25g free sugars per day (Ref 5).

Registered Public Health Nutritionist at WASH, Saadia Noorani says: “Our findings clearly show that both sugar and salt content varies among the same breakfast cereal sold in different countries with huge differences. We can see that some countries are supplied the exact same product whilst others are offered a different product with higher levels of salt and sugar.  It’s evident that popular breakfast cereals can be manufactured with less salt and sugar and manufacturers  need to do much more to improve their reformulation efforts across all countries”.

Professor Graham MacGregor, Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine at Queen Mary University of London and Chairman of WASH says, “Ironically some countries may have benefited from the UK’s salt reduction plan by being supplied with cereals reformulated for the UK, showing how easy it is to reduce salt content.   It is shocking that breakfast cereals still contain extremely high levels of salt and sugar. Kellogg’s and Nestle are the two main global manufacturers of breakfast cereal and they need to demonstrate that they can act in their customers’ interest to reduce sugar and salt levels to help save lives”.




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Notes to editor:
1. Our survey looked at the nutritional composition (sugar and salt content) of ready to eat breakfast cereals in 29 countries In order to draw international comparisons we focused on 19 products that were found in a large number of participating countries. These products were manufactured by the two leading manufactures of breakfast cereals, Kellogg’s and Nestle/General Mills (marketed as Uncle Toby’s in Australia and New Zealand). Manufacturers suggested serving sizes ranged from 27g to 40g.

2. All products over 7.5g per suggested serving sizes. Manufacturers suggested serving sizes ranged from 27g to 40g.

3. Maximum free sugar intake for 3 year old is no more than 15g/day  and for 4-6 years olds is no more than 19g/day.

5. As part of the Government’s Responsibility Deal the 2017 the salt target for breakfast cereals is 1.0g salt (maximum) per 100g.

6. WHO recommended salt intake for adults is 5g/day:

WHO conditional recommendation for sugars is below 5% of total energy:

7. Free sugars – includes sugars that are added to food and drink, as well as sugars that are naturally present in honey, syrups, fruit juices and fruit concentrates, not sugars in milk products and whole fruit & vegetable.  Some of the sugars will be from dried fruit added to breakfast cereals but there is no way of differentiating between the amount of free sugars verses the amount naturally occurring in dried fruit.
8. The UK traffic light labelling system was used to classify cereals as high, medium or low levels -

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