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 starsHealth 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)55.01554Orange 7.27.2Green 1.31.3Orange 24024018.318.3
Real Foods Corn Thins Multigrain (12g)4.54.51624Orange 3.43.4Green 0.50.5Orange 25925910.010.0
Arnott's Vita-Weat Original Crispbread (23g)4.54.51630Orange 7.27.2Green 1.01.0Orange 490 49011.111.1
Arnott's Vita-Weat 9 Grains Crispbread (23g)4.54.51710Orange 9.49.4Green 1.11.1Orange 45245212.012.0
Sun Rice Rice & Grain Squares Quinoa (25g)44.01480Green 2.32.3Green <10.9Green 1191194.24.2
Arnott's Cruskits Rye (12g)44.01560Green 1.21.2Green 0.10.1Red 6436437.67.6
Huntley & Palmers Litebread Mixed Grain (6g)44.01560Green 1.61.6Green 0.30.3Orange 6006006.26.2
Sun Rice Thin Rice Cakes Original (25g)44.01640Green 3.03.0Green 0.60.6Green 224.04.0
Sakata Wholegrain Authentic Rice Crackers Original (25g)44.01690Orange 7.67.6Green 1.01.0Orange 3993999.49.4
Arnott's Vita-Weat Lunch Slices Mixed Grain & Toasted Sesame (38g)44.01700Orange 10.010.0Green 1.31.3Orange 483 48311.411.4
Sakata Wholegrain Authentic Rice Crackers Cheddar & Chives (25g)44.01720Orange 9.29.2Green 1.21.2Orange 4484488.98.9
Real Foods Rice Thins Wholegrain (12g)44.01727Orange 3.43.4Green 0.60.6Orange 1751753.73.7
Healtheries Thin Corn Grain Wafers Grains & Sunflower Seeds (5g)3.53.51510Orange 3.23.2Green 0.50.5Orange 2002001.71.7
Huntley & Palmers Litebread Original (6g)3.53.51560Green 1.51.5Green 0.30.3Red 6906903.93.9
Arnott's Jatz 97% Fat-Free (25g)3.53.51570Green 2.12.1Green 0.60.6Red 7687683.83.8
Arnott's Savoy 97% Fat-Free (25g)3.53.51570Green 2.12.1Green 0.60.6Red 7687683.83.8
Select Brown Rice Crackers Sea Salt (25g)3.53.51720Orange 6.06.0Green 1.11.1Orange 1621624.54.5
Pams Wholegrain Brown Rice Crackers Flaxseed & Black Sesame (13g)3.53.51780Orange 3.33.3Green 1.41.4Orange 3543545.25.2
Select Brown Rice Crackers Black Sesame (25g)3.53.51780Orange 8.68.6Green 1.31.3Orange 2752754.24.2
Peckish Brown Rice Crackers No Salt (20g)3.53.51810Orange 9.49.4Orange 2.82.8Green 53533.13.1
Real Foods Corn Thins Tasty Cheese (7g)3.53.51822Orange 7.17.1Green 1.51.5Red 7817817.87.8
Huntley & Palmers Wholegrain Rice Crackers Black Sesame (25g)3.53.51830Orange 9.39.3Green 1.31.3Orange 3043043.13.1
Huntley & Palmers Wholegrain Rice Crackers White Sesame (25g)3.53.51830Orange 9.49.4Green 1.31.3Orange 3043044.14.1
Pams Original Rice Cracker Thins (25g)33.01530Orange 5.65.6Orange 2.62.6Orange 3293290.40.4
Arnott's Cruskits Rice (12g)33.01590Green 0.90.9Green 0.40.4Red 6076070.90.9
Budget Water Crackers (12g)33.01672Orange 6.86.8Orange 3.53.5Orange 3223220.60.6
Peckish Rice Crackers Original flavour (20g)33.01780Orange 6.56.5Orange 2.02.0Orange 2502501.01.0
Huntley & Palmers Baked Flat Bread Mixed Herbs (20g)33.01820Orange 10.510.5Orange 1.71.7Orange 5505503.53.5
Huntley & Palmers Baked Flat Bread Cracked Pepper & Rock Salt (20g)33.01860Orange 11.011.0Orange 1.71.7Orange 5605603.33.3
Huntley & Palmers Baked Flat Bread Toasted Sesame (20g)33.01890Orange 12.812.8Orange 1.91.9Orange 5505503.43.4
Select Sea Salt Crackers (20g)33.02030Red 19.819.8Orange 1.61.6Orange 5305302.62.6
Arnott's Cruskits Corn (13g)2.52.51570Green 1.61.6Green 0.20.2Red 8898892.12.1
Arnott's Cruskits Light (11g)2.52.51590Green 1.21.2Green 0.30.3Red 8498494.14.1
Arnott's Salada Light Original (28g)2.52.51600Green 2.52.5Green 0.70.7Red 100010004.14.1
Huntley & Palmers Sesameal Rosemary & Garlic (23g)2.52.51740Orange 11.911.9Red 5.15.1Red 9309309.39.3
Huntley & Palmers Sesameal Cracked Pepper (23g)2.52.51750Orange 11.811.8Orange 5.05.0Red 9409408.88.8
Huntley & Palmers Sesameal Original (11g)2.52.51750Orange 11.611.6Orange 4.94.9Red 9309308.58.5
Arnott's Water Cracker Original (18g)2.52.51790Orange 7.17.1Orange 3.23.2Red 6326323.93.9
Peckish Rice Crackers Cheddar Cheese Flavour (20g)2.52.51810Orange 8.98.9Orange 2.82.8Orange 4004000.70.7
Peckish Rice Crackers Cheese Flavour (20g)2.52.51810Orange 8.98.9Orange 2.82.8Orange 4004000.70.7
Arnott's Shapes Extreme Salt & Vinegar Smash (20g)2.52.51820Orange 14.514.5Orange 2.32.3Red 7577573.93.9
Fantastic Thinner Bites Black Rice Crackers (25g)2.52.51830Orange 7.27.2Orange 3.43.4Orange 3883881.91.9
Arnott's Shapes Light & Crispy Balsamic Vinegar & Sea Salt (20g)2.52.51850Orange 14.414.4Orange 1.91.9Red 8858853.83.8
Arnott's Shapes Light & Crispy Sweet Chilli & Sour Cream (20g)2.52.51860Orange 14.614.6Orange 2.02.0Red 7717714.04.0
Arnott's Jatz Original (25g)2.52.51950Red 18.318.3Orange 3.93.9Orange 4904903.23.2
Peckish Rice Snackers Cheese Flavour (25g)2.52.52000Orange 15.015.0Orange 3.23.2Orange 4004000.90.9
Select Original Wheaten Biscuits (10g)2.52.52040Red 20.720.7Orange 1.61.6Red 7207205.65.6
Pams Original Rice Crackers (25g)22.01618Orange 3.83.8Orange 1.71.7Red 7267260.80.8
Sun Rice Thin Rice Cakes Tasty Cheese (24g)22.01680Orange 8.08.0Green 1.41.4Red 9249243.73.7
Huntley & Palmers Water Cracker Original (13g)22.01780Orange 9.59.5Orange 4.84.8Red 7007003.13.1
Arnott's Salada Original (28g)22.01790Orange 10.010.0Green 1.21.2Red 9709703.93.9
Huntley & Palmers Cream Crackers Original (27g)22.01850Orange 13.613.6Red 7.27.2Orange 4504503.13.1
Huntley & Palmers Cream Crackers Mixed Grain (27g)22.01860Orange 14.814.8Red 6.96.9Red 6206204.34.3
Arnott's Poppy & Sesame (22g)22.01940Red 21.921.9Orange 4.54.5Red 8368365.25.2
Arnott's Vita-Weat Rice Crackers Multigrain (23g)22.01960Orange 12.812.8Orange 1.71.7Red 8718713.03.0
Arnott's Sesame Wheat (19g)22.01960Red 20.220.2Orange 4.54.5Red 111011104.84.8
Arnott's Savoy Original (25g)22.01970Red 20.020.0Orange 3.93.9Red 8488483.33.3
Waterthins Fine Wafer Crackers Natural (10g)1.51.51679Orange 4.24.2Green 1.51.5Red 131013104.04.0
Fantastic Thinner Bites BBQ Rice Crackers (25g)1.51.51780Orange 6.96.9Orange 3.23.2Red 8608601.41.4
Arnott's Country Cheese (15g)1.51.51790Orange 14.214.2Orange 4.44.4Red 132013203.03.0
Huntley & Palmers Cream Crackers Toasted Sesame (27g)1.51.51850Orange 15.015.0Red 6.16.1Red 8408404.34.3
Eta Cravers Snacking Crackers Chicken (20g)1.51.51900Orange 17.417.4Orange 1.61.6Red 116011602.72.7
Budget Snacking Crackers (31g)1.51.51970Orange 17.517.5Red 8.48.4Red 7507502.32.3
Huntley & Palmers Mealmates Original (12g)1.51.51980Red 21.121.1Red 8.48.4Red 8108103.53.5
Pams Garden Vegetable Light and Crispy Crackers (18g)1.51.51980Red 18.818.8Red 7.97.9Red 8298294.14.1
Arnott's Shapes Cheddar (25g)1.51.52000Red 21.521.5Red 7.27.2Red 7647643.23.2
Arnott's Harvest Wheat (25g)1.51.52020Red 21.221.2Orange 4.34.3Red 9179175.35.3
Pams Original Light & Crispy Crackers (18g)1.51.52020Red 19.619.6Red 8.18.1Red 8108103.43.4
Arnott's Jatz Clix (15g)1.51.52050Red 24.624.6Red 5.85.8Red 6616612.82.8
Griffin's Thin Table Snax Water Crackers (18g)1.51.52050Red 21.821.8Red 10.310.3Orange 5205202.62.6
Arnott's Cheds (23g)1.51.52110Red 26.826.8Red 7.17.1Red 8788782.92.9
Arnott's Supreme (20g)11.01980Red 19.719.7Red 17.417.4Red 6996993.33.3
Huntley & Palmers Somerset (12g)11.02010Red 20.920.9Red 10.410.4Red 9609602.22.2
Griffin's Original Snax Crackers (19g)0.50.52150Red 27.327.3Red 13.013.0Red 8108102.12.1
Huntley & Palmers Cheese Crackers Cheese & Chives (20g)0.50.52230Red 29.629.6Red 15.215.2Red 104010403.43.4
Trident Rice Crackers Plain (30g)NC01670Green 2.82.8Green 1.31.3Orange 250250NS0
Fantastic Rice Crackers Original flavour (25g)NC01680Orange 3.53.5Green 0.40.4Orange 570570NS0
Fantastic Goodies Seeds & Grains Quinoa, Buckwheat, Millet & Amaranth (25g)NC01720Orange 7.37.3Green 1.11.1Red 606606NS0
Home Brand Plain Rice Crackers (25g)NC01740Orange 4.04.0Green 0.70.7Orange 450450NS0
Carr's Table Water Crackers (3.4g)NC01750Orange 7.67.6Orange 3.33.3Orange 592592NS0
Home Brand Rice Crackers BBQ Flavoured (25g)NC01760Orange 4.04.0Green 0.70.7Orange 411411NS0
Home Brand Traditional Cracker Squares (19g)NC01790Orange 10.810.8Orange 4.24.2Orange 508508NS0
Home Brand Water Crackers Cracked Pepper (13g)NC01810Orange 9.09.0Orange 4.44.4Red 670670NS0
Fantastic Delites Sea Salt & Balsamic Vinegar (25g)NC01820Orange 12.112.1Green 1.41.4Red 16001600NS0
Fantastic Goodies Seeds & Grains Sesame, Poppy, Sunflower & Mustard seeds (25g)NC01840Orange 13.913.9Orange 1.71.7Red 605605NS0
Signature Range Golden Sesame Wheat Crackers (14g)NC01930Red 19.719.7Red 7.17.1Red 10201020NS0
Signature Range Original Snack Crackers (25g)NC01930Red 18.118.1Red 8.28.2Orange 590590NS0
Signature Range Wheat & Sesame Seed Crackers (26g)NC01990Red 18.318.3Red 7.67.6Red 680680NS0
Ritz Crackers Original (20g)NC02080Red 25.625.6Red 13.213.2Red 749749NS0
Signature Range Poppy & Sesame Seed Crackers (21g)NC02080Red 23.923.9Red 10.110.1Red 10001000NS0

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.

15aug crackers topping promo default

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.