17jan crackers newhero default

Crackers

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.

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Each year Kiwis spend more than $146 million on crackers and rice crackers in supermarkets alone. But which should you choose?

Health star ratings

We looked at 90 packets of crackers and were able to calculate health star ratings for 75 of them. We found nearly a third only got a rating of 2 stars or less. Dietitian Gemma Dunkley says these products, which tend to have higher levels of saturated fat and sodium, and lower levels of fibre, should only be eaten as occasional treats (no more than once a week).

New Zealand Nutrition Foundation CEO Sue Pollard recommends the health star rating system as an easy way to compare similar products.

“The wide range in the cracker ratings means consumers can choose healthier options. However, we hope more companies will soon use the ratings on their products, rather than consumers having to rely on the nutrition information panel,” Ms Pollard said.

Just one of the crackers in our survey – Arnott’s Vita-Weat Lunch Slices Mixed Grain & Toasted Sesame – had a voluntary health star rating.

The health star rating calculator and our survey compared crackers per 100g, even though you typically won’t eat that much in one go. Manufacturers decide their own serving sizes so they differ between types of crackers and brands. For example, Arnott’s Cruskits Rye states one serving is 12g, or two crackers, and Peckish Rice Crackers has a serving size of 20g or five crackers.

What we found

One cracker in our survey got a rating of 5 stars. Become a paying Consumer member or log in to find out more.

Claims

Cracker packets are splashed with claims that make them seem like a healthy snack but should you believe the hype?

Baked not fried

We found this claim on lots of crackers and it sounds good – we all know fried means fat. But don’t be tricked into thinking these baked products are automatically a healthy choice – they can still contain as much fat as fried products.

Arnott’s Shapes Cheddar make this claim but with more than 20 percent fat and high levels of saturated fat, it’s not the healthiest option for your afternoon snack. Griffin’s Original Snax Crackers claim it’s 100% Kiwi baked but this doesn’t stop it packing 27 percent fat, 13 percent saturated fat and high levels of sodium.

Cholesterol-free

Select Brown Rice Crackers and Peckish Rice Crackers say they’re cholesterol-free, but this claim isn’t as impressive as you might think. Most crackers are cholesterol-free because they don’t have any animal fats (the exception may be some cheese-flavoured crackers). Also, the amount of cholesterol you eat has little effect on your blood cholesterol levels, it’s more important to cut back on saturated and trans fats.

From January 2016, under the Food Standards Code, cholesterol claims will only be allowed on products that meet the conditions for a nutrient content claim about low saturated and trans fatty acids.

Made with real vegetables

Pams Garden Vegetable Light & Crispy Crackers make this claim. But when you read the fine print in the ingredients list you’ll see there’s only a miserly 4 percent dehydrated vegetable flakes. Plus it’s high in fat, saturated fat and sodium and only manages 1.5 stars.

High star crackers

Become a paying Consumer member or log in to find the highest-rating crackers in our survey.

Low star crackers

Become a paying Consumer member or log in to find the lowest-rating crackers in our survey.

We say

  • We’d like the health star rating system to be mandatory. This would make it easier for consumers to make healthier choices.
  • Ignore the packaging claims and stick with the nutrition information panel on the pack when comparing crackers. Also use the 100g figures as serving sizes differ between products.
  • Crackers should be eaten in moderation. Just because a cracker might be a healthier choice it doesn’t mean you should be eating half the packet!

Report by Belinda Castles.

Crackers compared

Crackers (serving size)[sort;desc] Health stars Health stars[sort;desc;hidden] Energy (kJ/100g)[sort;asc] Fat (g/100g) Fat (g/100g)[sort;asc;hidden] Saturated fat (g/100g) Saturated fat (g/100g)[sort;asc;hidden] Sodium (mg/100g) Sodium (mg/100g)[sort;asc;hidden] Fibre (g/100g) Fibre (g/100g)[sort;desc;hidden]
Ryvita Wholegrain Rye Crispbread Pumpkin Seeds (24g) 5 5.0 1554 Orange 7.2 7.2 Green 1.3 1.3 Orange 240 240 18.3 18.3
Real Foods Corn Thins Multigrain (12g) 4.5 4.5 1624 Orange 3.4 3.4 Green 0.5 0.5 Orange 259 259 10.0 10.0
Arnott's Vita-Weat Original Crispbread (23g) 4.5 4.5 1630 Orange 7.2 7.2 Green 1.0 1.0 Orange 490 490 11.1 11.1
Arnott's Vita-Weat 9 Grains Crispbread (23g) 4.5 4.5 1710 Orange 9.4 9.4 Green 1.1 1.1 Orange 452 452 12.0 12.0
Sun Rice Rice & Grain Squares Quinoa (25g) 4 4.0 1480 Green 2.3 2.3 Green <1 0.9 Green 119 119 4.2 4.2
Arnott's Cruskits Rye (12g) 4 4.0 1560 Green 1.2 1.2 Green 0.1 0.1 Red 643 643 7.6 7.6
Huntley & Palmers Litebread Mixed Grain (6g) 4 4.0 1560 Green 1.6 1.6 Green 0.3 0.3 Orange 600 600 6.2 6.2
Sun Rice Thin Rice Cakes Original (25g) 4 4.0 1640 Green 3.0 3.0 Green 0.6 0.6 Green 2 2 4.0 4.0
Sakata Wholegrain Authentic Rice Crackers Original (25g) 4 4.0 1690 Orange 7.6 7.6 Green 1.0 1.0 Orange 399 399 9.4 9.4
Arnott's Vita-Weat Lunch Slices Mixed Grain & Toasted Sesame (38g) 4 4.0 1700 Orange 10.0 10.0 Green 1.3 1.3 Orange 483 483 11.4 11.4
Sakata Wholegrain Authentic Rice Crackers Cheddar & Chives (25g) 4 4.0 1720 Orange 9.2 9.2 Green 1.2 1.2 Orange 448 448 8.9 8.9
Real Foods Rice Thins Wholegrain (12g) 4 4.0 1727 Orange 3.4 3.4 Green 0.6 0.6 Orange 175 175 3.7 3.7
Healtheries Thin Corn Grain Wafers Grains & Sunflower Seeds (5g) 3.5 3.5 1510 Orange 3.2 3.2 Green 0.5 0.5 Orange 200 200 1.7 1.7
Huntley & Palmers Litebread Original (6g) 3.5 3.5 1560 Green 1.5 1.5 Green 0.3 0.3 Red 690 690 3.9 3.9
Arnott's Jatz 97% Fat-Free (25g) 3.5 3.5 1570 Green 2.1 2.1 Green 0.6 0.6 Red 768 768 3.8 3.8
Arnott's Savoy 97% Fat-Free (25g) 3.5 3.5 1570 Green 2.1 2.1 Green 0.6 0.6 Red 768 768 3.8 3.8
Select Brown Rice Crackers Sea Salt (25g) 3.5 3.5 1720 Orange 6.0 6.0 Green 1.1 1.1 Orange 162 162 4.5 4.5
Pams Wholegrain Brown Rice Crackers Flaxseed & Black Sesame (13g) 3.5 3.5 1780 Orange 3.3 3.3 Green 1.4 1.4 Orange 354 354 5.2 5.2
Select Brown Rice Crackers Black Sesame (25g) 3.5 3.5 1780 Orange 8.6 8.6 Green 1.3 1.3 Orange 275 275 4.2 4.2
Peckish Brown Rice Crackers No Salt (20g) 3.5 3.5 1810 Orange 9.4 9.4 Orange 2.8 2.8 Green 53 53 3.1 3.1
Real Foods Corn Thins Tasty Cheese (7g) 3.5 3.5 1822 Orange 7.1 7.1 Green 1.5 1.5 Red 781 781 7.8 7.8
Huntley & Palmers Wholegrain Rice Crackers Black Sesame (25g) 3.5 3.5 1830 Orange 9.3 9.3 Green 1.3 1.3 Orange 304 304 3.1 3.1
Huntley & Palmers Wholegrain Rice Crackers White Sesame (25g) 3.5 3.5 1830 Orange 9.4 9.4 Green 1.3 1.3 Orange 304 304 4.1 4.1
Pams Original Rice Cracker Thins (25g) 3 3.0 1530 Orange 5.6 5.6 Orange 2.6 2.6 Orange 329 329 0.4 0.4
Arnott's Cruskits Rice (12g) 3 3.0 1590 Green 0.9 0.9 Green 0.4 0.4 Red 607 607 0.9 0.9
Budget Water Crackers (12g) 3 3.0 1672 Orange 6.8 6.8 Orange 3.5 3.5 Orange 322 322 0.6 0.6
Peckish Rice Crackers Original flavour (20g) 3 3.0 1780 Orange 6.5 6.5 Orange 2.0 2.0 Orange 250 250 1.0 1.0
Huntley & Palmers Baked Flat Bread Mixed Herbs (20g) 3 3.0 1820 Orange 10.5 10.5 Orange 1.7 1.7 Orange 550 550 3.5 3.5
Huntley & Palmers Baked Flat Bread Cracked Pepper & Rock Salt (20g) 3 3.0 1860 Orange 11.0 11.0 Orange 1.7 1.7 Orange 560 560 3.3 3.3
Huntley & Palmers Baked Flat Bread Toasted Sesame (20g) 3 3.0 1890 Orange 12.8 12.8 Orange 1.9 1.9 Orange 550 550 3.4 3.4
Select Sea Salt Crackers (20g) 3 3.0 2030 Red 19.8 19.8 Orange 1.6 1.6 Orange 530 530 2.6 2.6
Arnott's Cruskits Corn (13g) 2.5 2.5 1570 Green 1.6 1.6 Green 0.2 0.2 Red 889 889 2.1 2.1
Arnott's Cruskits Light (11g) 2.5 2.5 1590 Green 1.2 1.2 Green 0.3 0.3 Red 849 849 4.1 4.1
Arnott's Salada Light Original (28g) 2.5 2.5 1600 Green 2.5 2.5 Green 0.7 0.7 Red 1000 1000 4.1 4.1
Huntley & Palmers Sesameal Rosemary & Garlic (23g) 2.5 2.5 1740 Orange 11.9 11.9 Red 5.1 5.1 Red 930 930 9.3 9.3
Huntley & Palmers Sesameal Cracked Pepper (23g) 2.5 2.5 1750 Orange 11.8 11.8 Orange 5.0 5.0 Red 940 940 8.8 8.8
Huntley & Palmers Sesameal Original (11g) 2.5 2.5 1750 Orange 11.6 11.6 Orange 4.9 4.9 Red 930 930 8.5 8.5
Arnott's Water Cracker Original (18g) 2.5 2.5 1790 Orange 7.1 7.1 Orange 3.2 3.2 Red 632 632 3.9 3.9
Peckish Rice Crackers Cheddar Cheese Flavour (20g) 2.5 2.5 1810 Orange 8.9 8.9 Orange 2.8 2.8 Orange 400 400 0.7 0.7
Peckish Rice Crackers Cheese Flavour (20g) 2.5 2.5 1810 Orange 8.9 8.9 Orange 2.8 2.8 Orange 400 400 0.7 0.7
Arnott's Shapes Extreme Salt & Vinegar Smash (20g) 2.5 2.5 1820 Orange 14.5 14.5 Orange 2.3 2.3 Red 757 757 3.9 3.9
Fantastic Thinner Bites Black Rice Crackers (25g) 2.5 2.5 1830 Orange 7.2 7.2 Orange 3.4 3.4 Orange 388 388 1.9 1.9
Arnott's Shapes Light & Crispy Balsamic Vinegar & Sea Salt (20g) 2.5 2.5 1850 Orange 14.4 14.4 Orange 1.9 1.9 Red 885 885 3.8 3.8
Arnott's Shapes Light & Crispy Sweet Chilli & Sour Cream (20g) 2.5 2.5 1860 Orange 14.6 14.6 Orange 2.0 2.0 Red 771 771 4.0 4.0
Arnott's Jatz Original (25g) 2.5 2.5 1950 Red 18.3 18.3 Orange 3.9 3.9 Orange 490 490 3.2 3.2
Peckish Rice Snackers Cheese Flavour (25g) 2.5 2.5 2000 Orange 15.0 15.0 Orange 3.2 3.2 Orange 400 400 0.9 0.9
Select Original Wheaten Biscuits (10g) 2.5 2.5 2040 Red 20.7 20.7 Orange 1.6 1.6 Red 720 720 5.6 5.6
Pams Original Rice Crackers (25g) 2 2.0 1618 Orange 3.8 3.8 Orange 1.7 1.7 Red 726 726 0.8 0.8
Sun Rice Thin Rice Cakes Tasty Cheese (24g) 2 2.0 1680 Orange 8.0 8.0 Green 1.4 1.4 Red 924 924 3.7 3.7
Huntley & Palmers Water Cracker Original (13g) 2 2.0 1780 Orange 9.5 9.5 Orange 4.8 4.8 Red 700 700 3.1 3.1
Arnott's Salada Original (28g) 2 2.0 1790 Orange 10.0 10.0 Green 1.2 1.2 Red 970 970 3.9 3.9
Huntley & Palmers Cream Crackers Original (27g) 2 2.0 1850 Orange 13.6 13.6 Red 7.2 7.2 Orange 450 450 3.1 3.1
Huntley & Palmers Cream Crackers Mixed Grain (27g) 2 2.0 1860 Orange 14.8 14.8 Red 6.9 6.9 Red 620 620 4.3 4.3
Arnott's Poppy & Sesame (22g) 2 2.0 1940 Red 21.9 21.9 Orange 4.5 4.5 Red 836 836 5.2 5.2
Arnott's Vita-Weat Rice Crackers Multigrain (23g) 2 2.0 1960 Orange 12.8 12.8 Orange 1.7 1.7 Red 871 871 3.0 3.0
Arnott's Sesame Wheat (19g) 2 2.0 1960 Red 20.2 20.2 Orange 4.5 4.5 Red 1110 1110 4.8 4.8
Arnott's Savoy Original (25g) 2 2.0 1970 Red 20.0 20.0 Orange 3.9 3.9 Red 848 848 3.3 3.3
Waterthins Fine Wafer Crackers Natural (10g) 1.5 1.5 1679 Orange 4.2 4.2 Green 1.5 1.5 Red 1310 1310 4.0 4.0
Fantastic Thinner Bites BBQ Rice Crackers (25g) 1.5 1.5 1780 Orange 6.9 6.9 Orange 3.2 3.2 Red 860 860 1.4 1.4
Arnott's Country Cheese (15g) 1.5 1.5 1790 Orange 14.2 14.2 Orange 4.4 4.4 Red 1320 1320 3.0 3.0
Huntley & Palmers Cream Crackers Toasted Sesame (27g) 1.5 1.5 1850 Orange 15.0 15.0 Red 6.1 6.1 Red 840 840 4.3 4.3
Eta Cravers Snacking Crackers Chicken (20g) 1.5 1.5 1900 Orange 17.4 17.4 Orange 1.6 1.6 Red 1160 1160 2.7 2.7
Budget Snacking Crackers (31g) 1.5 1.5 1970 Orange 17.5 17.5 Red 8.4 8.4 Red 750 750 2.3 2.3
Huntley & Palmers Mealmates Original (12g) 1.5 1.5 1980 Red 21.1 21.1 Red 8.4 8.4 Red 810 810 3.5 3.5
Pams Garden Vegetable Light and Crispy Crackers (18g) 1.5 1.5 1980 Red 18.8 18.8 Red 7.9 7.9 Red 829 829 4.1 4.1
Arnott's Shapes Cheddar (25g) 1.5 1.5 2000 Red 21.5 21.5 Red 7.2 7.2 Red 764 764 3.2 3.2
Arnott's Harvest Wheat (25g) 1.5 1.5 2020 Red 21.2 21.2 Orange 4.3 4.3 Red 917 917 5.3 5.3
Pams Original Light & Crispy Crackers (18g) 1.5 1.5 2020 Red 19.6 19.6 Red 8.1 8.1 Red 810 810 3.4 3.4
Arnott's Jatz Clix (15g) 1.5 1.5 2050 Red 24.6 24.6 Red 5.8 5.8 Red 661 661 2.8 2.8
Griffin's Thin Table Snax Water Crackers (18g) 1.5 1.5 2050 Red 21.8 21.8 Red 10.3 10.3 Orange 520 520 2.6 2.6
Arnott's Cheds (23g) 1.5 1.5 2110 Red 26.8 26.8 Red 7.1 7.1 Red 878 878 2.9 2.9
Arnott's Supreme (20g) 1 1.0 1980 Red 19.7 19.7 Red 17.4 17.4 Red 699 699 3.3 3.3
Huntley & Palmers Somerset (12g) 1 1.0 2010 Red 20.9 20.9 Red 10.4 10.4 Red 960 960 2.2 2.2
Griffin's Original Snax Crackers (19g) 0.5 0.5 2150 Red 27.3 27.3 Red 13.0 13.0 Red 810 810 2.1 2.1
Huntley & Palmers Cheese Crackers Cheese & Chives (20g) 0.5 0.5 2230 Red 29.6 29.6 Red 15.2 15.2 Red 1040 1040 3.4 3.4
Trident Rice Crackers Plain (30g) NC 0 1670 Green 2.8 2.8 Green 1.3 1.3 Orange 250 250 NS 0
Fantastic Rice Crackers Original flavour (25g) NC 0 1680 Orange 3.5 3.5 Green 0.4 0.4 Orange 570 570 NS 0
Fantastic Goodies Seeds & Grains Quinoa, Buckwheat, Millet & Amaranth (25g) NC 0 1720 Orange 7.3 7.3 Green 1.1 1.1 Red 606 606 NS 0
Home Brand Plain Rice Crackers (25g) NC 0 1740 Orange 4.0 4.0 Green 0.7 0.7 Orange 450 450 NS 0
Carr's Table Water Crackers (3.4g) NC 0 1750 Orange 7.6 7.6 Orange 3.3 3.3 Orange 592 592 NS 0
Home Brand Rice Crackers BBQ Flavoured (25g) NC 0 1760 Orange 4.0 4.0 Green 0.7 0.7 Orange 411 411 NS 0
Home Brand Traditional Cracker Squares (19g) NC 0 1790 Orange 10.8 10.8 Orange 4.2 4.2 Orange 508 508 NS 0
Home Brand Water Crackers Cracked Pepper (13g) NC 0 1810 Orange 9.0 9.0 Orange 4.4 4.4 Red 670 670 NS 0
Fantastic Delites Sea Salt & Balsamic Vinegar (25g) NC 0 1820 Orange 12.1 12.1 Green 1.4 1.4 Red 1600 1600 NS 0
Fantastic Goodies Seeds & Grains Sesame, Poppy, Sunflower & Mustard seeds (25g) NC 0 1840 Orange 13.9 13.9 Orange 1.7 1.7 Red 605 605 NS 0
Signature Range Golden Sesame Wheat Crackers (14g) NC 0 1930 Red 19.7 19.7 Red 7.1 7.1 Red 1020 1020 NS 0
Signature Range Original Snack Crackers (25g) NC 0 1930 Red 18.1 18.1 Red 8.2 8.2 Orange 590 590 NS 0
Signature Range Wheat & Sesame Seed Crackers (26g) NC 0 1990 Red 18.3 18.3 Red 7.6 7.6 Red 680 680 NS 0
Ritz Crackers Original (20g) NC 0 2080 Red 25.6 25.6 Red 13.2 13.2 Red 749 749 NS 0
Signature Range Poppy & Sesame Seed Crackers (21g) NC 0 2080 Red 23.9 23.9 Red 10.1 10.1 Red 1000 1000 NS 0

Guide to the table
Health stars were calculated using the Australian Department of Health’s health star rating calculator.

  • NC = not calculated because there was insufficient information available (see “About our survey”).

Fat, saturated fat, sodium, and fibre figures are from label information or provided by manufacturers.

Total fat (g/100g): Green ≤3 Orange 3.1-17.5 Red >17.5

Saturated fat (g/100g): Green ≤1.5 Orange 1.6-5.0 Red >5

Sodium (mg/100g): Green ≤120 Orange 121-600 Red >600

  • NS = not stated and not provided by the manufacturer.

About our survey

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.

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Topping up

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.