The REAL nutritional value of “canteen-approved” counterfeits

By Rachel O'Regan |

Keys2words - The real nutritional value of “canteen-approved” counterfeits

Uh-oh, look what we started. It’s been over a year since we started petitioning for clearer, better, healthier canteen guidelines and it seems the rest of the world is cottoning on. After Sarah Wilson flagged the issue, CHOICE Consumer Group joined us in the battle, campaigning to get 17 fake canteen-approved logos off the shelves. Yep, you heard that right – 17.

It’s pretty darn exciting to see the canteens crusade we started FINALLY get some mainstream coverage (, and to name a couple). However, we’re not punching the air just yet. While we got the NSW Parliament to promise an answer to our petition by the end of the year, we still need to put the pressure on this slow-cooker. Starting with, signing to get these fake “canteen-approved” logos off shelves. Forever.

And if you still need some convincing, we’ve done some digging and found the exact nutritional details of some of the junk foods passing themselves off as “school-friendly” snacks.

Arnott’s Tiny Teddy Hundreds & Thousands


Ingredients: Wheat Flour, Sugar, Vegetable Oil, Butter Cream (from Milk), Salt), Honey, Starches (Tapioca, Wheat, Maize Starch), Vegetable Fibre, Salt, Emulsifier (Soy Lecithin), Colours (Turmeric, Chlorophyll, Cochineal, Paprika Extract), Maltodextrin, Baking Powder, Flavour (Natural), Glazing Agent (E903).

Under national canteens guidelines, Tiny Teddy Hundreds & Thousands are classified as confectionery because, well, they’re covered in freaking sprinkles. That doesn’t stop Arnott’s slapping a big school canteens sticker on the front of the pack, though. You can see from the ingredients list that there is nothing nourishing here and sugar is the second largest ingredient. No wonder they won a Shonky.

Mamee Monster Rice Sticks Vegetable Flavour


Ingredients: Rice, Corn, Palm Based Natural Carotene & Vitamin E Rich Carotino Oil, Wheat Fibre (Gluten Free), Vegetable Flavour Powder [contains Anticaking Agent (551)], Dhal Powder, Tapioca Starch, Sugar, Spices, Salt, Maltodextrin and Yeast Extract.

Sure, there’s not a lot of sugar here but that doesn’t mean it’s healthy. There’s a whole lot of refined oils going on here as well as “vegetable flavour powder”. Ermmm, Mamee, exactly what is in that powder? Research also tells us that while the package proudly says no monosodium glutamate (MSG), it does contain . Keep working around those loopholes, Mamee.

Streets Rainbow Paddle Pops


Ingredients: Dairy ingredients (reconstituted skim milk and/or reconstituted buttermilk, milk solids), cane sugar, glucose syrup (from wheat), vegetable oil, maltodextrin, flavours, gelatine, emulsifier (471), colours (120,100), vegetable gum (401).

I mean, you’re hardly going to send your kid to school with a Paddle Pop, but the onslaught of wholesome messaging on this packet might just convince you to stash these at home. “Made with wholesome dairy milk”, “no artificial colours” and “school canteen approved”, these popsicles contain over three teaspoons of sugar, more than The WHO recommends for kids PER DAY. Yet what’s going to stop a kid with a sweet tooth and tuckshop money buying this at play lunch?

Paradise Uglies


Ingredients: Wheat Flour, Sugar, Coloured Chocolate Chips(13%)[Sugar, Vegetable Fat{Emulsifiers(492, Soy Lecithin)}, Cocoa Powder, Milk Solids, Tapioca Starch, Colours(171,100,120,160c), Emulsifier(Soy Lecithin), Flavours, Glazing Agents(903,904)], Vegetable Fats & Oils(Antioxidant 307), Chocolate Chips(8%)[Sugar, Vegetable Oil, Cocoa, Milk Solids, Emulsifier(492, Soy Lecithin), Salt], Golden Syrup, Vegetable Fibre, Salt, Raising Agents(503,500), Flavours

Uglies is about right. One tiny pack of these biscuits adds up to around two teaspoons of sugar. Notice how the sugar content is cleverly dispersed throughout the ingredients list? Plain sugar, coloured choc chips, plain choc chips and golden syrup… we wouldn’t want to be the teacher dealing with the sugar high after Junior scoffs these down.

Coco-Pops Chocolatey Liquid Breakfast


Ingredients: Reduced fat milk (90%), sugar, skim milk powder, vegetable fibre (inulin), cocoa, flavours, stabilisers (460, 466, 407), minerals (calcium carbonate, iron), acidity regulators (339, 332), vitamins (niacin, vitamin D, folate, vitamin B6, riboflavin, thiamin).

Not gonna lie, the thought of any child drinking one of these for breakfast makes us sad. While it may be high in vitamin D, calcium and fibre, this tiny tetra-pak contains a whopping six teaspoons of sugar. That’s enough sugar intake for an ADULT. And we haven’t even factored in fruit intake yet. Like we said, sad.

Want to get canteen counterfeits out of here? Here’s how you can help.

We’re officially passing the baton. The NSW government has promised an answer to our petition by the end of this year, and now with CHOICE onboard, we can make a bit of noise to influence their decision. Want to get these misleading canteen logos out of the way for a start? Click below to sign the petition. And thanks for your support!

What foods would you like to see kicked out of Aussie canteens?

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