Food in Focus: Devondale Smoothies

As I was flipping through the supermarket catalogues this week, an ad for a new product caught my eye. Devondale Smoothies. This ad in fact.

Now one thing that really annoys me is advertising that fools parents into buying junk food thinking that it is good for their kids. Ads that tell you how many vitamins there are in Coco Pops or that LCMS are 'full of the goodness of rice' or sell the vitamin C in Ribena. This appeared to me to be more of the same and I was determined to get to the bottom of it.

Well lets start by looking at what they claim one by one.

Nutritious blend of milk and real fruit: Aside from additives, the product does appear to be UHT milk, fruit and water. The milk is UHT milk and I realise there is an online debate roaring about the nutrition quality of UHT milk. However generally speaking, UHT milk although not as full of nutrients as fresh milk is still quite nutrient rich.
The fruit content varies from between 8 and 11% depending on the smoothie product. There is some addition of apple puree and 'fruit fibre' to all of the products which would up the fruit content a little however there was no percentage information given for these. For comparison, an average home-made smoothie is closer to 50% fruit.

No artificial additives: There are no numbers listed on the ingredients if that is the sort of thing that is important to you. There are additives obviously: fructose, pectin, natural flavours, milk solids and citric acids.

No cane sugar: They have added fructose as a sweetening agent instead of cane sugar. The banana and honey flavour also has 2% honey. Per 100 ml it has between 7.5 and 9.8 grams of sugar, in comparison with plain milk that has 5.1.
For interests sake, I did a rough calculation (using the Banana and honey flavour):

     Sugar from banana per smoothie = 0.96
             Sugar from a banana: 12 grams per 100 grams.
             Banana content in smoothie: 8%
             Roughly 8 grams of banana per smoothie
    Sugar from milk = 5.1 grams
     Total sugar from natural sources = 6.06 grams (+ some sugar from apple puree which I am    unable to calculate)
    Sugar content of product: 9.8 grams.
    Additional sugar content: 3.74 grams 

That is a pretty substantial added sugar content for something that is essentially claiming not to add sugar. This is an example of the tricky advertising I was talking about.

Source of calcium: Sure, its milk. Although as mentioned the calcium content of UHT mlik is likely not as high as fresh milk. I also note that, the calcium content is 55 mg per 100 ml versus 120 mg per 100ml for their plain milk.

Low GI: Milk is by its nature a low GI food, however the fact that they have used fructose as a sweetner keeps it low GI.

School canteen approved (Green): This could be another example of tricky advertising since it is pretty heavily implying that this is a healthy product that can be eaten freely which is what green means on most traffic light systems.
However the criteria for school canteens is a bit different and all that 'green' means is that they freely stock it rather than only having it available on certain days. For example, in WA all this means is that it is a reduced fat dairy product.  Other reduced fat flavoured milks are also Green according to school canteens as are fruit juices without added sugar 1.
As a reduced fat dairy product it would generally fall into a green category in most traffic light systems but lets take a look at its nutritional content.
Fat: 1.5 grams
Saturated Fat: 1.0 gram
Sugar: 7.5 - 9.8 gram
Salt: 20 mg
So actually looking at the nutritional content, this is actually a pretty healthy product. There is a reasonable sugar content which is comparable with other flavoured milks on the market.

The verdict
The advertising is actually not terribly misleading which is a shame as I would have preffered to rip it to shreads than agree that this is actually a pretty reasonable product.
Unflavoured plain milk would obviously be a better choice and they do make this in UHT portable versions so it can go in lunchboxes or be otherwise transported. There is a line of thinking that it is best if children are only offered plain milk or water as drink options. However, the official line on flavoured milk is that they are the best of the flavoured drink choices particularly if your child is not consuming much dairy 2


  1. simply add a couple ice cubes or frozen berries to give your smoothie a more satisfying chill. Weight Loss Smoothie Recipes

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