The report failed to include the Food Standards Agency's research showing that breakfast cereals contribute little to the intake of salt and sugar (less than 10%), but substantially to vitamin and iron intake (25-30%). Breakfast cereals are also a vital source of dietary fibre and are a good source of calcium because they constitute one of the few opportunities for people to consume milk with food.
The Which? measurement, based on 100g bowls of cereals, is also questionable. The National Diet & Nutrition Survey of Adults shows that men eat 33g and women 27g per day on average.
The benefits of cereals are well documented and the report and subsequent media coverage confuses the health messages that government and healthy eating campaigners have long fought to convey. The Which? report has also failed to put the nutritional content of foods in the context of a balanced diet. Nutritionists and dieticians agree on the important role of breakfast cereals, especially when research shows that one in five children are still going to school on an empty stomach. By demonising cereals, Which? is communicating the wrong message.
Consumers want choice and variety. You only have to examine the breakfast cereal aisle in the supermarket to see the wide range available.
The FSA recommends eating breakfast among its 'Top Tips' in its Eat Well leaflet, and suggests having wholegrain cereals with fruit or fruit juice. Breakfast cereals, therefore, remain a quick, convenient and healthy start to the day and this important message should not be lost.