All the children's cereals tested contained "unacceptably" high levels of sugar, with an average of 33 per cent, according to the results of international research published in Consumer Choice magazine.
Irish children eating cereals are also more likely to be subjected to health claims than children elsewhere. For example, an Irish box of Kellogg's Frosties claims the cereal has the goodness of grains, but in six other countries no claim is made.
The survey found Kellogg's Coco Pops Coco Rocks contained almost 9 per cent fat in Ireland, but only 1.3 per cent fat when sold in Australia and New Zealand. Rice Krispies were found to contain 13 per cent here, but only 10 per cent sugar in most of the other 13 countries surveyed. Fat levels in this product were 1-1.3 per cent in Ireland, but only 0.7 per cent in the US, Australia and New Zealand.
The Consumers' Association of Ireland (CAI), which publishes Consumer Choice, says the results show manufacturers can produce healthier cereals with lower amounts of sugar, salt and fat.
Kellogg's Ireland described the survey as alarmist. A spokesperson said it was based on an average portion size of 100 grams, when the average child would eat no more than 30-40 grams per serving. Breakfast cereals contributed only 13-15 per cent of the average child's daily sugar requirement while providing a significant portion of the vitamins and nutrients they need.
Asked why sugar and and salt levels in some products were higher in Ireland, the spokesperson said brand formulation varied from continent to continent for a variety of reasons.
Leaving aside Kelloggs' failure to explain why the brand formulation for these things varies, my favourite bit is how, when confronted with figures such as 9 per cent, 1.3 per cent, 13 per cent, and 10 per cent the Kelloggs spokesman apparently claimed that these figures only applied to bowls of a certain size.
Clearly the spokesman hadn't quite grasped the concept of percentages.