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Children's school snack favourites loaded with salt and sugar, says watchdog

Children's pre-packed lunchbox favourites should have clearer nutritional labelling to show levels of salt and sugar in them, a consumer watchdog has said.

In the run-up to the start of a new school term, Which? assessed items aimed at pupils and found that just two products in a lunchbox could provide a quarter of the recommended sugar intake, and more than half the daily salt intake, for a five-year-old.

Out of more than 1,000 parents surveyed, eight out of 10 said they included pre-packaged items in their children packed lunches.

Richard Lloyd, executive director of Which?, said: "These products might seem like handy fillers for your child's lunchbox, but they can be bad for their health and your wallet. You're better off making your own children's lunches or giving them school dinners which are more nutritionally balanced."

Seven out of 10 of those surveyed said they would like to see "traffic light" labelling on food products aimed at children, with red to signify high levels of salt, sugar and fat, amber for medium and green for low.

Jenny Driscoll, senior campaigner at Which?, said many busy parents believed products were healthy if they contained fruit or calcium, without looking at the levels of sugar and salt.

"Most parents tell us they want clear labelling, especially when it comes to food for their children," she said. A 'traffic light' labelling system would allow parents to see which products have high sugar and salt.

Research found that a pack of Dairylea Lunchables Ham'n' Cheese Crackers has 1.8g salt, more than half of the recommended daily level for a five-year-old.

A 200ml bottle of blackcurrant and apple Robinsons Fruit Shoot drink has 22g of sugar, which is a quarter of the maximum amount for a five to 10-year-old.

Factfile

  • A Dairylea Lunchables 'Ham 'n' Cheese' Crackers contains 1.8g of salt, over half of a four to six-year-old's daily intake.
  • Almost 15% of a Petits Filous Frubes is sugar.
  • Robinson's Fruit Shoot Juice (blackcurrant and apple) contains over four teaspoons of sugar.
  • The Fruit Factory Fruit Strings are almost 50% sugar.


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