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NEW product survey (the first of its kind) exposes the excessive amounts of hidden sugar and calories in waffles, pancakes, pretzels and crepes when eating out

12 September 2019

Embargoed until 12/09/2019, 00.01 hours (UK time)

Action on Sugar Calls for Mandatory Labelling and Reformulation of Foods Sold in Restaurants, Cafes and Diners and to Stop Hiding Nutrition Information

OOH Waffles, Pancakes, Crepes and Pretzels Data 2019 [PDF 468KB]

Supermarket Waffles, Pancakes, Crepes and Pretzels Data 2019 [PDF 386KB]

Media Coverage

NEW product survey (the first of its kind) exposes the excessive amounts of hidden sugar and calories in waffles, pancakes, pretzels and crepes when eating out

    • A Breakfast Club Salted Caramel Banoffee Pancake contained 1800 kcal and would take over 8 hours of walking to burn off
    • My Old Dutch Four Cheese crepe has more calories AND salt than three McDonalds’ Big Macs
    • A Mr. Pretzels Chocolate Pretzel, often eaten as a snack when shopping, contained 930 kcals
    • A Creams Waffle: Oreos on Mine with Gelato contained a whopping 19 teaspoons of sugar, more than 2 cans of cola

Action on Sugar is calling for mandatory calorie and colour-coded nutrition labelling in the Out of Home sector and for reformulation of morning goods

A NEW survey by Action on Sugar, based at Queen Mary University of London, has revealed the excessive amounts of sugar and calorie content in waffles, pancakes, pretzels and crepes consumed when eating out[i] and available in supermarkets. This is despite these products being included in the Morning Goods category selected for the Government’s sugar reduction strategy to tackle childhood obesity.

Today, the group of experts are calling for the Government to enforce mandatory colour-coded nutrition and calorie labelling on menus (and also online), as 42% of the 105 products with nutrition information per serving surveyed would receive a red label for high sugar content, and have their excessive levels of calories exposed. At the same time, manufacturers should be required to make these products with far less sugary, salty and calorific ingredients – all of which is easily achievable.

Action on Sugar surveyed 191 products from restaurants, cafes and takeaways included 94 crepes, 12 pancakes, 16 pretzels and 69 waffles and their toppings. Only 70 of these products provided full nutrition information in store or online. Chains such as Creams, Kaspa’s Desserts, Snowflakes Gelato, The Breakfast Club, Wafflemeister, Auntie Anne’s and Mr. Pretzels have no nutritional information available on menus. For the first time, Action on Sugar commissioned independent laboratory analysis of 35 samples from these chains, exposing the alarming levels of sugar, salt and calories to the public.[ii] These types of foods are widely available in smaller outlets and it is likely they are representative of similar foods found when eating out.

Chains such as Harvester, My Old Dutch, Crepeaffaire, Brewers Fayre, McDonald’s and Marks & Spencer Café provide nutrition information on their websites. However, not all provide this information on the menus, therefore customers may not be able to easily make an informed decision.

Highest calorie products from restaurants, diners, cafes and stands in shopping malls

*These products did not have nutrition information available online or on display in menu, and were sent for lab analysis, full details in notes.

Pancakes

Outlet

Product Name*

Calories per serve (kcal)

Sugar per serve (g)

Salt per serve (g)

The Breakfast Club

Salted Caramel Banoffee Pancake

1800

53

2.7

The Breakfast Club

Pancakes & Berries

1500

44.0

1.8

The Breakfast Club

Beauregarde Pancake

1400

100.0

2.2


A Breakfast Club Salted Caramel Banoffee Pancake had more calories than three McDonalds’ Big Macs and would take 8 and a half hours of walking to burn off.[iii],4

Crepes

Outlet

Product Name

Calories per serve (kcal)

Sugar per serve (g)

Salt per serve (g)

My Old Dutch

Four Cheese

1621

1.8

8.5

My Old Dutch

Greek

1486

7

7.5

My Old Dutch

Banana, Nuts & Chocolate Sauce

1307

88.3

2


My Old Dutch Four Cheese crepe has more calories and salt than eating
three Big Macs.[iv] It would take a person, on average, three and half hours of cycling to burn off.3 It also contains an alarming 8.5g of salt, which is more than 140% of your daily maximum intake of 6g a day.

Pretzels

Outlet

Product Name*

Calories per serve (kcal)

Sugar per serve (g)

Salt per serve (g)

Mr. Pretzels

Chocolate

930

47.0

0.9

Mr. Pretzels

Nutella

820

53.0

0.8

Auntie Anne's[v]

Almond Crunch

590

23.0

1.1


A Mr. Pretzels Chocolate pretzel contained 930 calories per serving - that’s the same as eating almost eighteen KitKat fingers[vi] or 12 teaspoons of sugar

Waffles

Outlet

Product Name*

Calories per serve (kcal)

Sugar per serve (g)

Salt per serve (g)

Creams

Waffle: Oreos on Mine with Gelato

1200

77.0

2.2

KASPA'S DESSERTS

Choco-tella Spread Waffle

 

950

73.0

1.8

Snowflake Gelato

Nutella Crepe with Vanilla Gelato

930

64.0

0.7


Hiding 1,200 calories per serve and over 19 teaspoons of sugar, an Oreos on Mine waffle with Gelato by Creams dessert bar (who promise to provide an ‘indulgent adventure’) – had over half the average number of daily calories for a woman (2,000) and the equivalent of more than 2 cans of cola in sugar.[vii]

In 2016, Public Health England introduced its sugar reduction strategy (which is part of the Government’s childhood obesity plan) with the aim of reducing the overall sugar in products by an average minimum of 20% by 2020, focusing on sectors contributing to the main sugar intake amongst children.

Pancakes, waffles and crepes are amongst the sub-categories in the Morning Goods category of the Government’s sugar reduction strategy, however pretzels are not. In the first-year sugar reduction progress report, a large proportion of products in the Morning Goods category lacked sufficient data for robust analysis by Public Health England. As a result, reporting on progress or lack of it for this category was limited.[viii] This clearly sets out the problem with the lack of nutrition information available from the Out of Home sector for analysis by Government bodies and the public. This is an unfair situation and the Department of Health and Social Care must enforce calorie and colour-coded nutrition information in the out of home sector immediately. Furthermore, a product growing in popularity such as pretzels should also be included in the sugar and calorie reduction programmes.

As a way of comparison, the product survey also analysed crepes, waffles, pancakes and pretzels sold in supermarkets. The supermarket research surveyed eighty four products of which seven were crepes, four were pretzels, twenty two were waffles and fifty one were pancakes. The products from supermarkets contained far less calories, sugar and salt in comparison to examples from the Out of Home sector, showing reformulation is easily achievable. Even the highest waffle sold in a supermarket had less than a quarter of the calories of the highest waffle sold Out of the Home.

Highest calorie products from supermarkets

Product Name

Calories per serve (kcal)

Sugars per serve (g)

Salt per serve (g)

St. Pierre Belgian Waffle With Butter 90g

394

25.1

1

Tesco Plain Pretzel 100g

293

3.5

2

The Original Waffle Co. Traditional Belgian Liege Chocolate Waffles 300g

280

 

16.8

 

0.3

 


Registered Nutritionist Dr Kawther Hashem, Campaign Lead at Action on Sugar based at Queen Mary University of London says:

“It is absurd that supermarkets are forced to be as transparent as possible about what they put in their products, from allergens to calories, but when eating out we often have no idea what is in our food and drink. If companies continue to hide their nutrition information, there is little hope for consumers to find the healthier options. The Health Minister, Matt Hancock MP needs to act now to resolve this unfair situation.”

Graham MacGregor, Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine at Queen Mary University of London and Chairman of Action on Sugar explains,

“Since some supermarkets make similar products that also sell well, there is no reason why we are not given better options when eating out. Despite the Government’s childhood obesity strategy, food and drink stands in shopping malls and casual dining eateries are awash with unhealthy options. The Out of Home sector is constantly pouring cold water on plans to do anything to improve our health. We now need both Public Health England and the Department of Health and Social Care to enforce product reformulation so parents have affordable, healthy food options.”

Kate Oldridge-Turner, Head of Policy & Public Affairs at World Cancer Research Fund, said:

“We welcome surveys like this that help the public understand how unhealthy certain products are, and in particular how unregulated certain sectors of the food industry can be. Consumers have the right to know what is in the food they are buying, and will be shocked when they see the large quantities of sugar in some of their favourite products. If supermarkets have to display calorie and sugar content, why not restaurants? We call on the government to make tackling the current obesity epidemic a priority by making our environments healthier so that it is easier for people to make healthier choices, as being overweight or obese increasing the risk of at least 12 different types of cancer.”

WCRF have a guide on how governments can implement front-of-pack food labels in the face of industry interference: https://www.wcrf.org/int/policy/our-publications/lessons-implementing-front-of-pack-label 

Ends

For more information contact: David Clarke @ Rock PR:

E: david@rock-pr.com M: 07773 225516

Join the conversation @actiononsugar

Notes to editors:

Action on Sugar is a group of specialists concerned with sugar and its effects on health. It is successfully working to reach a consensus with the food industry and Government over the harmful effects of a high sugar diet, and bring about a reduction in the amount of sugar in food and drink products.

[i] E.g. Restaurants, cafes and takeaways, as well as online businesses that sell food or drink for takeaway or home delivery that is ready to be consumed

[ii] The survey looked at 191 options from 14 Out of Home outlets. Portion sizes differ widely.  Action on Sugar collected nutritional information online and in-store (August 2019). As full nutrition information was not available for Creams, Kaspa’s Desserts, Snowflakes Gelato, The Breakfast Club, Wafflemeister, Auntie Anne’s and Mr. Pretzels, Action on Sugar staff visited the outlets and ordered some options from the menu. The meals were paid for from each outlet and taken away in containers and delivered to independent Public Analysts, who analysed the nutrition content of the products. The results from the Public Analysts are available on request. Meals were analysed at Kent Scientific Services by Public Analyst Jon Griffin, 8 Abbey Wood Road, Kings Hill, Kent, ME19 4YT. Action on Sugar recognise that this is a small sample and there is variation in cooking practices of different outlets. However, this is an accurate reflection of products that random consumers would have consumed had they eaten at that outlet on that day.

[iii] On average, a 60kg person would need to walk for 8.34 hours to burn off 1800 kcals. On average, a 60kg person would need to cycle for 3.36 hours to burn off 1621 kcals  https://www.wcrf-uk.org/uk/here-help/health-tools/exercise-calorie-calculator?tool-view=results

[iv] One McDonalds’ Big Mac contains 508 kcal and 2.3g salt. https://www.mcdonalds.com/gb/en-gb/product/big-mac.html

[v] We asked Auntie Anne’s if they provide nutrition information, they only provide calorie information behind the till upon request, for the Cinnamon, Original and Almond options with and without butter.

[vi] One KitKat finger contains 52 calories and 5.3g sugar - https://www.tesco.com/groceries/en-GB/products/292743872

[vii] One can of Coca Cola contains 35g of sugar, 9 teaspoons. https://www.tesco.com/groceries/en-GB/products/279967868

[viii] Public Health England. https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/709008/Sugar_reduction_progress_report.pdf

 

 

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