This is a cheese stick, but unlike the Bega Cheese Stringers I’ve reviewed before, it’s considered a processed cheese snack (which is different to just cheese). This might be quite confusing to most people, so that’s why it features in todays Chewsday Review… It also seems to come in a Fridgestick or a Cheese Pod depending on which state you live in. They're also all slightly different in the nutrition panel. Anyway, this review relates specifically to the Cheese Stik.
🔹Cheese (minimum 45%), water, butter or cream or milk fat, milk solids, mineral salts (331, 339, 452), flavour, salt, preservatives (200, 234), food acid (270)
🔹The additives here extend the shelf-life of the product and are all generally well-tolerated. 452 (sodium polyphosphate) may be linked to kidney stones in susceptible people but that wouldn’t apply to many kiddos.
🔹This is considered a processed cheese snack (and not just cheese) because of the percentage of cheese and the other ingredients that have been added to it. It's more like Philadelphia than like a cheese block.
🔹Common allergens include: milk
🔹Reasonably high calcium content (588mg/100g). One Dairylea Stik works out to be almost 24% of a toddler's calcium requirements. Regular cheese has a bit more calcium at ~700mg calcium/100g.
🔹Less total and saturated fat than regular cheese. Dairylea Stik contains 17.9g of saturated fat/100g while cheddar cheese contains about 23.2g/100g. Remember that cheese is made from concentrated milk, and it will therefore have a relatively high saturated fat content. Lower saturated fat content is a benefit, even though it still exceeds general fat and saturated fat guidelines.
🔹Although this fits within the healthy guidelines, the sugar content of 6.5g/100g is about six times that of most cheeses (usually less than 1g/100g).
🔹Significantly less protein than Cheese Stringers or cheese blocks. This is not a huge concern because most Australian children get plenty of protein, but just shows the difference in ingredients.
🔹MASSIVE sodium content (1420mg/100g) which is more than double regular cheese or cheese stringers (and these already have high sodium levels). Remember from our previous cheese reviews that salt has an integral role in the production of cheese, inhibiting bacterial overgrowth and balancing the acidity. The average salt content of cheese is about 620mg/100g, making it a high salt product. It's almost impossible to change these characteristics and still make cheese. However, 1420mg is outrageous.
🔹$23/kg which is relatively expensive compared to regular blocks of cheese. This works out to about 70c per Cheese Stik which is more than a Stringer.
🔹No artificial colours or flavours, as with every other review this year.
🔹”Source of calcium.” Correct.
🔹”Fun lunchtime snack.” But really, are they as fun as Stringers that don’t string?!
🔹I’d recommend Bega Stringers or Regular Cheddar Cheese over this product. The sodium is wayyyyyyyyy too high. Remember that cheese is nutritious, but is high in saturated fat and salt, so isn't an ‘every meal food.'
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. You can also email them.