How does your favourite cracker stack up nutritionally?
By Belinda Castles
Research & test writer
Drop that packet of chips – reach for the crackers instead, right? Not so fast – weight for weight, some crackers have more saturated fat and sodium than a packet of chips and that’s before you add any toppings.
Health star ratings
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We bought all the main types of crackers from supermarkets (although not every flavour) - 90 packets in all.
We calculated the health star rating using the calculator provided by the Australian Department of Health.
The health star rating system is a voluntary front-of-pack label designed to give “at-a-glance” information about the nutritional value of a packaged food. The ratings are based on 100g or 100ml of the product and range from half a star to five stars – the more stars the better. Different thresholds are used for beverages, dairy products, oils and spreads, and cheese products.
It wasn’t always possible to calculate a health star rating from the product’s nutrition information panel and ingredients list. For example, information on the amount of dietary fibre and the percentage of seeds isn’t required (unless a specific nutrient claim is being made for the product or seeds are the characterising ingredient).
Where information was missing, we contacted the manufacturer to fill in the gaps. In some cases the manufacturer was not able to provide the information.
As well as calculating a products's health star rating, we use "traffic light" symbols to show its levels of fat, saturated fat and sodium. If you see a red light, you know the food is high in something you may be trying to cut down on. Green means the food has low amounts of it; orange fits somewhere in between.
The cracker may be the least of your worries if you’re topping it with unhealthy toppings. Butter and full-fat cheese adds lots of fat, saturated fat and sodium to your mid-morning snack. Most pickles, relishes and chutneys contain lots of sodium or added sugar. Healthier choices include tomato, avocado, hummus and low-fat dairy products like cottage cheese.
Remember you’ll also use a lot more topping covering a Cruskit than a Snax cracker.