Survey reveals some fruit snacks contain over 4 teaspoons of sugar per portion

Posted: 29 May 2015 | Victoria White | No comments yet

New research by Action on Sugar has revealed that there is a huge amount of hidden sugar in seemingly ‘healthy’ fruit snacks aimed at children…

New research by Action on Sugar has revealed the amount of hidden sugars in seemingly ‘healthy’ fruit snacks aimed at children.


Over three quarters of products surveyed (80 of the 94 products) contained more sugars than Haribo Starmix (47g/100g) confectionary per 100g – with some containing over 4 teaspoons per portion. Furthermore, out of all the products surveyed, nearly all (99%) would receive a ‘red’ colour coded warning on the label for high sugars per 100g.

Packaging claims state these fruit snacks can contribute to ‘1 of your 5’ portions of fruit and vegetables a day. However, the new school food standards do not permit schools to offer children these products because they are categorised as ‘confectionary’. Action on Sugar believe food manufacturers must adhere to the same standards to protect our children’s health.

Some fruit snacks contained over 4 teaspoons of sugar per portion

Examples of high sugars fruit snacks identified in the Action on Sugar research:

Product name & pack size Sugars (g) per 100g Sugars (g) per serving Teaspoons* of sugar per serving **
The Fruit Factory Sports Mix-Ups 5x18g 81.0 14.6 3.6
Tesco Yogurt Coated Strawberry Fruit Bites 25g 70.1 17.5 4.4
Fruit Bowl Fruit Flakes Raspberry Rush 25g 69.0 17.3 4.3
Whitworths Sunny Raisin coated Custard Raisins 25g 68.8 17.2 4.3
Organix Goodies Organic Fruit Gummies Strawberry & Apple 12g 67.2 8.1 2.0

*4 grams of sugar (granulated) is equal to 1 teaspoon of sugar

**serving size as stated on product packaging

Katharine Jenner, campaign director at Action on Sugar, commented, “Parents find it hard enough to know what is ‘healthy’ without food manufacturers confusing matters with misleading claims.  Whole, unprocessed fruit is healthier than processed fruit snacks and fruit juice drinks, as it contains vitamins, minerals, water and fibre, and does not cause the devastating tooth decay we see in young children today.”

Kawther Hashem, nutritionist at Action on Sugar, said,  “It’s high time food manufacturers stop adding unnecessary sugars and calories to already sweet products. Check the label and if in doubt – eat fresh fruit. Ready sliced fruit in snack pots are better than processed fruit snacks.

“To eat the same number of grams of sugars in a processed fruit snack (18g) your child will have to eat about 240g of strawberries – that’s equivalent to a whole punnet!”

With a third of girls (34%) and boys (33%) aged 11-15 years considered overweight or obese, and tooth decay currently affecting 27.9% of 5 year olds, Action on Sugar is also urging parents to provide children with fresh fruit and vegetables as snacks, instead of the sugar-laden processed fruit snacks.

Graham MacGregor urges the UK Health Secretary to set sugar reduction targets across the food industry

Graham MacGregor, Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine at Queen Mary University of London and Chairman of Action on Sugar, urged the new UK government to take action, “The new Conservative government has a tremendous opportunity to take control of public health and reduce the huge burden on the NHS caused by the pandemic of obesity and type 2 diabetes, linked to high sugar intakes. This survey illustrates the fact that the food industry is the cause of this pandemic, by taking something as natural as fruit and ruining it by adding sugar.

“The new Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt MP, must set sugar reduction targets across the whole of the food industry to gradually reduce the amount of sugar they add to our food. If the food industry does not respond then punitive taxes on these unhealthy products need to be imposed.”

Tooth decay is the most common cause of pain in children

Aubrey Sheiham, Emeritus Professor of Dental Public Health at University College London, said, “Fruit snacks with these unacceptably high levels of hidden sugars are very likely to cause decay in the hardest tissue in the human body – the teeth. Tooth decay is the most common cause of pain in children and the main reason why children are admitted to hospital.  The worldwide epidemic of tooth decay will only be controlled when manufacturers markedly reduce the levels of sugars in their products.”

In response to the Action on Sugar research, a spokesperson from Organix said, “Our Organix No Junk Promise means we never add any refined sugars to our foods. Refined sugars are a carbohydrate so they provide energy but offer no other benefits while many foods such as milk, fruit and vegetables contain natural sugar alongside other essential nutrients such as vitamins, minerals and fibre.

“The sugar content in our foods comes only from natural sources including organic fruit and vegetables which we use for flavour. We are confident that by using whole, pureed or in some cases concentrated organic fruits and vegetables in our foods we are giving the best alternative to cheap processed sugars. We want to reassure you that to minimise the total sugar in our foods we are careful with our portion sizes for children and when foods are higher in sugar due to their ingredients we limit the portion size accordingly. 

“At Organix we want children to grow up eating a balanced and varied diet so they develop a healthy relationship with food. Sugar is just one of many things to consider when it comes to a good diet and healthy eating habits.”