Chewsday Review- Mamee Monster Rice Sticks

These snacks are in the health food aisle, and they've got a school canteen stamp on them- so are they a good lunchbox choice? Today's Chewsday Review features Mamee Monster Rice Sticks. These are VEGETABLE flavoured (perhaps a revolutionary way to get kids used to the taste of vegetables 😂- my tongue is firmly in my cheek!)

🔶Ingredients:

🔹Rice, corn, palm based carotino oil, wheat fibre (gluten free), vegetable flavour powder, dhall powder, tapioca starch, sugar, spices, salt, maltodextrin, yeast extract

🔹Carotino oil is a mixture of palm oil and canola oil. The manufacturers claim that it comes from sustainable plantations (orang-utan friendly!) and has a better nutrient profile than regular palm oil (less saturated fat, more omega 3 and some vitamin A & E). It sounds like a reasonable option at face value, but Dr Oz endorses it, so I am therefore highly suspicious.

🔹Common allergens include: milk and soy

🔶The positives:

🔹Low in sugar (as you would expect for a savoury snack)

🔹Reasonably high fibre content (2.4g per packet, which is about 17% of a toddler's requirements, 13% of primary school aged requirements)

🔹20g portion packs, meaning kids won't eat a lot of them. However, they are 75c per pack, which works out to about $37/kilo.

🔹Gluten free for coeliac kiddies

🔶The negatives:

🔹Very high in sodium (salt). At 610mg/100g it exceeds the upper limit of the healthy guidelines by 150%.

🔹High fat content, and particularly high saturated fat content at 8.2%. Healthy guidelines suggest aiming for less than 3% of saturated fat so this is more than double. Having said that, these chip-style snacks have half the total fat and half the saturated fat of regular potato chips.

🔶The marketing:

🔹Healthy School Canteen Strategy- Amber Compliant. This strategy defines amber foods as those that may contain some valuable nutrients (e.g. fibre) but may be too high in saturated fat (yes), sugar (no) and sodium (yes) to be categorised as green foods (everyday foods). Basically, they're a 'sometimes' food.

🔹No added MSG. I'm surprised that this is a big selling point, given that MSG is rarely used in flavourings in today's market. I'm guessing this is aimed at parents particularly worried about additives, and just makes it clear from the get go.

🔹No flavour enhancers, no artificial flavours.

🔹GM free. Genetically modified foods are a particularly controversial issue in the States, but not so much here.

🔶The alternatives:

🔹These are definitely better than snack packs of potato chips/crisps, but still not a particularly healthy choice. Snack packs of popcorn can be a better option, as can other corn and rice cakes. 🔹Aim for less than 3g saturated fat per 100g and less than 400mg sodium per 100g.

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