- Dietary Fibre
Packaged muesli, which is generally a loose mixture of mainly rolled oats and various pieces of dried fruit, nuts and seeds, is expected to be a source of protein, energy and dietary fibre. Considered to be among the healthier ready-breakfast options, muesli typically has less sugar than many other products in this category. All these aspects are brought together in this report as we study the label information on five popular brands of fruit-and-nut muesli. We have also rated the quantities of fat, sugar and salt as per traffic light colours. It must be noted that declaration of salt is not mandatory as per Indian law and most brands have not done it either.
Here are the five brands whose labels we studied and compared for nutritional information.
Energy, Protein and Dietary Fibre
*NM – not mentioned
- Energy value is highest in Spencer’s (405.3 kcal per 100 gm) and lowest in Bagrry’s (353.3 kcal per 100 gm).
- Consuming 100 gm of Kellogg’s Muesli by a woman engaged in sedentary work means about one-fifth (20.4 per cent) of her daily requirement of energy has been met.
- Protein value is highest in Gaia (10.5 gm in 100 gm) and lowest in Kellogg’s (7.5 gm in 100 gm).
- Consuming 100 gm of Patanjali Muesli by a man means 16 per cent of his daily requirement of protein has been met.
- Declaration of dietary fibre on the label is not mandatory as per Indian law. However, except Gaia, all other brands have declared dietary fibre on their labels. This is a consumer-friendly step on the part of these brands.
- Among the brands that have declared dietary fibre, the highest amount is in Spencer’s (8.7 gm per 100 gm) and the lowest is in Kellogg’s (4.25 gm per 100 gm).
- Consuming 100 gm of Spencer’s Muesli by a person means 29 per cent of his/her daily requirement of dietary fibre has been met.
To Claim Dietary Fibre in Food Products
Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has notified the Food Safety and Standards (Advertising and Claims) Regulations, 2018. Food business operators are required to comply with all the provisions of these regulations by 1 July, 2019.
As per the regulations, dietary fibre claim on food products labels can be mentioned with certain conditions.
- For claim that a food product is a ‘source’ of dietary fibre, it should contain at least 3 gm fibre per 100 gm or 1.5 gm per 100 kcal energy value.
- For claim that a food product is ‘high or rich’ in dietary fibre, it should contain at least 6 gm fibre per 100 gm or 3 gm per 100 kcal energy value.
Applying the new regulations, Kellogg’s and Patanjali can claim to be a ‘source’ of dietary fibre on their labels.
Bagrry’s and Spencer’s can claim to be ‘high or rich’ in dietary fibre on their labels.
Dietary fibre includes all parts of plant foods that our body cannot digest or absorb. Unlike other food components such as fats, proteins, or carbohydrates that our body breaks down and absorbs, fibre is not digested. Instead, it passes relatively intact through our stomach, small intestine, colon, and out of our body. Dietary-fibre requirement can be met by adopting a diet that incorporates plant-origin foods including fruits, vegetables and grains.
A high-fibre diet offers many health benefits, which include:
- Normalising bowel movements
- Maintaining bowel health
- Lowering of cholesterol levels
- Helping control blood sugar levels
- Aiding in achieving healthy weight
The WHO Committee on Chronic Degenerative Diseases has recommended a daily dietary-fibre intake of 30 gm.
Nutritional labelling of packaged food products refers to the disclosure of the main nutrients, such as energy, fat, protein, carbohydrate, sugar and salt content, on the label. As per India’s Food Safety and Standards (Packaging & Labelling) Regulations, 2011, mandatory nutritional information or nutritional facts per 100 grams or 100 millilitres or per serving of the product shall be given on the label. Such information shall contain the following:
- energy value in kilocalories (kcal)
- the amounts of protein, carbohydrate (including quantity of sugar) and fat in gram (gm) or ml
- the amount of any other nutrient for which a nutrition or health claim is made
Note that declaration of salt/sodium and dietary fibre is not mandatory.
Per-Day Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for Indians
This is as per Dietary Guidelines for Indians – A Manual (2011) by Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR). RDA refers to the average daily level of intake sufficient to meet the nutrient requirements of nearly all healthy people in their particular life stage and gender group.
Traffic Light Labelling
In year 2007, Food Standards Agency (FSA) of the United Kingdom developed traffic light labelling guidelines with these objectives:
- to allow consumers to correctly identify healthier food products
- to assist consumers to make comparisons between products easily
- to allow consumers to make these comparisons at a glance
The traffic light labelling system uses three colours – green, amber and red – to show at a glance if a particular food has low, medium or high amounts of fat, sugar and salt. Foods that are high in fat, sugar and salt are linked with obesity and non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, hypertension and high blood pressure. As yet, the UK labelling system is not followed in India.
This is how the criteria for foods (per 100 gm) are set out in the traffic light labelling system:
Results can be interpreted as follows:
Green: eat often (desirable); amber: eat occasionally (neutral); red: eat sparingly (undesirable)
Traffic Light Rating of Muesli Brands
NM: Not mentioned
*Sodium multiplied by 2.54
- Traffic light for fat is amber for all five brands – – this means one may consume these occasionally.
- Traffic light for sugar is green for Gaia – this translates into ‘desirable’ so far as sugar is concerned. It is amber for Bagrry’s, Kellogg’s and Patanjali, and red for Spencer’s, which means it should be consumed sparingly.
- Declaration of sodium/salt on food products label is not mandatory as per Indian law and among the five brands only Kellogg’s has declared the same. This is a consumer-friendly step.
- Traffic light for salt is amber for Kellogg’s.
WHO (World Health Organization) Guidelines on Dietary Salt
Adults should consume less than 2 grams of sodium, or 5 grams of salt, per day, according to guidelines issued by the WHO. The main source of sodium in our diet is salt, although it can also come from sodium glutamate, used as a condiment in many parts of the world. A person with elevated sodium levels can be at risk of raised blood pressure, which increases the risk of heart disease and stroke.
The unit price gives a fair idea about the cheapest and costliest brands.
- As per unit price, Patanjali (Rs 45 per 100 gm) is the cheapest brand and Bagrry’s (Rs 72.50 per 100 gm) is the costliest.
Oxford Dictionary describes muesli as ‘a mixture of oats and other cereals, dried fruits and nuts, eaten with milk at breakfast.’ The term ‘muesli’ is derived from the Swiss German word mus, which means ‘mixture’. Muesli was introduced around 1900 by the Swiss physician Maximilian Bircher-Benner for patients in his hospital, where a diet rich in fresh fruit and vegetables was an essential part of therapy. Muesli in its modern form became popular in western countries starting in the 1960s, no doubt because of the increased interest in health food and vegetarian diets.
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