Today's Chewsday Review features a parent request for a typically Australian lunch box food- the jelly cup! There are plenty of options on the shelves these days, many proudly advertising no added sugar, and 4 stars on the health star rating. I've chosen to review SPC's orange flavoured jelly with diced peaches. So, is this a complete junk food, or is it not too bad?
🔹Jelly (70%), diced peaches (30%)
🔹The jelly is made up of pear juice, gelling agent (carrageenan, locust bean), food acids (sodium citrate, citric), natural flavour, antioxidant (ascorbic acid), natural colour (160b).
🔹All of these jelly ingredients tend to be safe and well tolerated, apart from natural colour 160b, also known as annatto. This tends to be very poorly tolerated by children with food chemical sensitivities.
🔹Common allergens include: nil (although children with food sensitivities may react to the natural colour included)
🔹Low fat, saturated fat and sodium (salt) content.
🔹The sugar content (11.8g/100g) fits under the healthy guidelines of 15g/100g. I like that there isn't added sugar, just what occurs in the juice and the fruit. Compared to a serving of regular jelly, this product has between 23-40% less sugar (depending on the brand).
🔹Made in Australia 🇦🇺
🔹The jelly cup is less than a third actual fruit, meaning one portion only provides about 1/4 of a serve of fruit. This only meets 1/8 of a school-aged child's daily requirements of fruit.
🔹Essentially this product is a small scoop fruit, with a bit of fruit juice thickened with gum to make jelly. There's not a lot of nutritious content, nor is there a lot of junk in there.
🔹Sensitive kiddies may react to the natural colouring used in this product
🔹"Four health stars, using the health star rating." As I said above, this product does meet most nutritional cutoffs, but mostly because it's not got a lot of anything in it. There's not a lot of fat, sugar, saturated fat, salt or protein- meaning it doesn't get red flagged. There's a bit of fruit in it, but I'd hardly call it a nutritious choice.
🔹"No artificial colours or flavours." This is true, but in this case the natural colour used has more potential side effects than an artificial colour.
🔹"No added sugar." Also true, and the overall sugar content was lower than what I expected. This is a better option than regular jelly, all of which is added sugar.
🔹This isn't a product I'd recommend, but also not one that I'm hugely concerned about. It's a little bit of fruit in some fruit flavoured gel. Technically it meets all of the nutritional cut offs, but I'd be hard pressed to call it a nutritious option. Use occasionally, or choose the similar sized cups of tinned fruit in natural juice. Fresh fruit is also a much better option!
About Mealtime Building Blocks
Dr Kyla Smith is a paediatric dietitian specialising in fussy eating, feeding difficulties and childhood nutrition. Lauren Pike is an occupational therapist working in fussy eating and feeding difficulties. They have a private practice called Mealtime Building Blocks in Perth, Western Australia. You can connect with Kyla and Lauren on their website and sign up for their newsletter, and the Facebook page or on the Instagram page.