The nutritional quality of South African ready-to-eat breakfast cereals

Nicola Laurelle Wiles


Background: Internationally, ready-to-eat breakfast cereals (RTEBC) make an important contribution to the nutritional intake of children. Significant differences have been found between the nutritional quality of children and non-children’s RTEBC. South Africa has strict legislation regarding the use of nutrition claims to promote products.

Objectives: To determine i) differences in nutritional quality between children’s and non-children’s RTEBC; and, ii) compliance of nutrition claims with current legislation.

Outcome measures: An analysis of the nutrient content per 100 g and per recommended serving size; an audit of nutrient content claims.

Design: This study examined the packages of 134 RTEBC that were categorised into children’s cereal and six types of nonchildren’s cereal.

Results: Children’s cereals formed 21% (n = 28) of the sample and were significantly more likely to have sugar as the first or second ingredient listed. Per 100 g, children’s cereals contained significantly more carbohydrates, sugar and sodium than non-children’s cereal collectively. Per 100 g and per serving, non-children’s cereal was significantly higher in protein, fat and dietary fibre compared to children’s cereal. Seventy-eight percent of all RTEBC (n = 104) had a nutrient content claim and 2% (n = 3) had a comparative claim. The most common claim was regarding dietary fibre (69 claims) followed by vitamins and minerals (65 claims). Ten nutrient claims were not compliant with legislation.

Conclusion: Significant differences in nutritional quality exist between South African children’s and non-children’s RTEBC. Food manufacturers need to be more vigilant regarding nutrient claims and adhere to the labelling legislation.

(Full text available online at

South Afr J Clin Nutr 2017; DOI: 10.1080/16070658.2017.1319124


nutrition information on labels; ready-to-eat breakfast cereals

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S Afr J Clin Nutr: ISSN (Print): 1607-0658, ISSN (Web): 2221-1268

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