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Eur J Clin Nutr. 2010 Nov;64 Suppl 3:S20-5. doi: 10.1038/ejcn.2010.205.

Nutritional quality and labelling of ready-to-eat breakfast cereals: the contribution of the French observatory of food quality.

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INRA, UR1303 ALISS, Ivry sur Seine, France.



To assess developments in the nutritional quality of food products in various food groups in France, an Observatory of Food Quality (Oqali) was created in 2008. To achieve its aims, Oqali built up a new database to describe each specific food item at the most detailed level, and also included economic parameters (market share and mean prices). The objective of this paper is to give a detailed analysis of the monitoring of the ready-to-eat breakfast cereals (RTEBCs) sector in order to show the benefits of the Oqali database.


Analysis was limited to products with nutritional information on labels. Packaging was provided by manufacturers or retailers, or obtained by buying products in regular stores. Economic parameters were obtained from surveys on French food consumption and data from consumer purchase panels. The breakfast cereal sector was divided into 10 categories and 5 types of brand. Oqali has developed anonymous indicators to describe product characteristics for each category of RTEBC and each type of brand by cross-referencing nutritional values with economic data. Packaging-related data were also analysed. The major nutritional parameters studied were energy, protein, fat, saturated fat, carbohydrates, sugars, fibre and sodium. Analysis was performed on the basis of descriptive statistics, multivariate statistics and a Kruskal-Wallis test.


For the RTEBC, there is large variability in nutrient content throughout the sector, both within and between product categories. There is no systematic relation between brand type and nutritional quality within each product category, and the proportion of brand type within each product category is different. Nutritional labels, claims and pictograms are widespread on packages but vary according to the type of brand.


These findings form the basis for monitoring developments in the nutritional composition and packaging-related data for breakfast cereals in the future. The final objective is to expand the approach illustrated here to all food sectors progressively.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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