The weekly shop is not pleasure for many busy parents as they squeeze it into busy schedules. Choosing products that are "healthy" is not made easy. Food marketing professionals know that they have a brief opportunity to attract a busy shopper to their brand. I’ve no doubt that they sit in meetings, trying to think of healthy-sounding words and phrases that suggest their product it a healthy choice. These are not "health claims, which are subject to strict regulation, but words that cast a nice healthwash over the product, making us think they are a better than the other products displayed.
The word "multigrain" is one of these words. It crops up on boxes of cereals, bread, snacks and baby food. We know that wholegrain is supposed to be good for you, so the word "grain"works by association. If one grain is good then surely a multitude of grains must be even better? But multigrain is not a precise or technical term. It could - and does - just mean a mixture of flours - wheat flour, rice flour, maize flour etc.
This sneaky word is presumably meant to make us think these products are high in fibre – but do they actually contain a worthwhile amount?
The information on one "multigrain" cereal, very much aimed at children, shows that a 30g serving gives you just one gram of fibre. This is about the same as a medium slice of white bread.
Recommended fibre intake for adults is 24g a day and although guidelines for young children are not clear, you would expect them to be around 15g per day or more, depending on size of child.
It's clear that a bowl of multigrain crispy novelty shapes is not going to get a child's daily intake of fibre off to a flying start. A child would have to eat 15 or more bowlfuls of the stuff to get their daily minimum fibre intake. Better than a cereal made with no fibre at all of course, but in the context of a daily diet it is not going to make a big contribution.
The word multigrain definitely counts as healthwash - one to look out for and treat with scepticism.