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Huge Differences in the Sugar and Salt Content of Global Breakfast Cereal Brands

WASH (World Action on Salt & Health), a global group with the mission to improve the health of populations throughout the world by achieving a gradual reduction in salt intake which has 527 members from 95 countries conducted survey of 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). Manufactures suggested serving sizes ranged from 27g to 40g. Nutritional information was collected from product packaging or from manufactures websites or national databases during 2016.

VOICE Society (CONSUMER VOICE), a national level consumer organization based at New Delhi participated in this survey from India.

Main findings of survey:

  • High and unnecessary amount of sugar is added to breakfast cereals with 58% of cereals
    surveyed containing high levels of sugar
  •  Not one single product featured contained low levels of sugar
  • 54% of the cereals surveyed contain 2 teaspoons or more of sugar per suggested serving
  • The salt and sugar content of breakfast cereals varies hugely between countries
  • WASH calls on breakfast cereal manufactures to reduce the salt and sugar content of cereals to the lowest levels across all countries Survey on global breakfast cereal brands has revealed wide differences in the levels of salt
    and sugar found in the same breakfast cereals sold around the world.

The survey looked at19 products by Kellogg’s and Nestle/General Mills from 29 countries for comparison and found the SUGAR content ranged from 57g to 8g per 100g, a difference of 86%,whilst the SALT content ranged from 1.93gto 0.08g per 100g, a difference of 96%across all cereals. Currently the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends that adults should restrict their salt content to 5g a day and free sugars intake to 25g a day (Ref 2). The cereal with the highest sugar content was Kellogg’s Honey Smacks sold in Mexico which contained 17g sugar per 30g serving – that’s over 4 teaspoons in one bowl- equivalent to nearly 2 and a half Krispy Kreme doughnuts (Ref 3).

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

Kellogg’s Corn Flakes sold in India (1.93g/100g or 0.58g per 30g serving) which contains 46% more salt than the same cereal sold in Argentina and Brazil (1.04g/100g or 0.31g per 30g serving).
The top 5 cereals with the lowest salt:

The findings of the survey demonstrate it is possible to reduce the salt and sugar content of breakfast cereals with the UK leading the way with salt reduction. Countries can learn from the UK’s successful salt reduction programme which has set clear targets for the food industry to gradually reduce salt added to processed food which has resulted in the UK decreasing its population salt intake. As this is done slowly, consumers do not notice the difference in taste
and there is no reduction in sales.

WASH is calling on all global food manufacturers to reduce the salt and sugar content of breakfast cereals supplied to all countries to reach the WHO target of 5g of salt for adults per day and 25g of sugar per day (Ref 2).

Nutritionist Saadia Noorani from WASH says: “Our findings clearly show that both sugar and salt content varies amongthe same product sold in different countrieswith wide ranging differences. We know that food manufactures can reduce the salt and sugar content of their products and should do more to reduce levels through reformulation across all their markets, in all countries. The salt reduction programme in the UK, and subsequent fall in population blood pressure, has shown us how reformulation programmes can have a meaningful impact on public health.”

For further information contact:
UK PR contact: David Clarke: Mobile: +44 (0)7773 225516
India contact: Ashim Sanyal: Mobile: +91 9350998460


  1.  The UK traffic light labelling system was used to classify cereals as high, medium or low levels recommended salt intake for adults is 5g/day:

  1. WHO conditional recommendation for sugars is below 5% of total energy:
  2.  Krispy Kreme Glazed Doughnut contains 7g sugar per serving –

About Voluntary Organisation in Interest of Consumer Education (Consumer VOICE)

Consumer VOICE is one of the Leading Consumer Organisation in the India. Working under “Jago Grahak Jago” program of Ministry of Consumer Affairs besides other Ministries, Regulatory bodies, standards organizations, world bodies and Standing Committees of Parliaments, our work of Comparative Testing for product testing and services evaluations are for the masses. We are doing advocacy for all the consumers to various authorities and consumers across India are getting benefited from our work. Our magazines and website, besides educational workshops on various subjects are the tools of consumer education and empowerment across the nation and all consumers get benefited from our work.

Consumer VOICE
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Consumer VOICE

Consumer VOICE

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