One year ago, the company pledged to reduce sugar to “single-digit levels of grams of sugar per serving” for its Big G cereals advertised to children under 12, having already reduced the figure to 11 grams or less per serving.
A year later, General Mills has announced that by 31 Dec, its Big G cereals advertised to children will contain 10 grams of sugar or less per serving, with some already at 9 grams of sugar.
The company came under fire last year when its Cocoa Puffs cereal – among sugary cereals made by other companies – was included in the Smart Choices food labelling program, despite containing 33 percent sugar, or 11 grams per serving.
Widespread criticism of its inclusion led the Food and Drug Administration to announce it would carry out an investigation of the scheme, and the program was dropped in October.
General Mills said it was consumer pressure rather than the controversy over the Smart Choices program that prompted it to take action on sugar levels in its cereals.
The company said that from 2007 it has lowered sugar levels in its children’s cereals by more than 14 per cent on average.
General Mills said that Big G has increased key nutrients in its cereals as well as reducing sugar. The company said that now all Big G kid cereals contain at least 10 per cent of the Daily Value for calcium and vitamin D.
Jeff Harmening, president of General Mills’ Big G cereal division said, “We feel General Mills can lead the way by innovating to make even better tasting cereals with lower sugar levels – and we are going to continue until we reach our single-digit goal.”
General Mills also became the latest major food manufacturer to announce a sodium reduction strategy earlier this year, pledging a 20 percent reduction in about 40 percent of its product portfolio by 2015.
The company said it has been ‘silently’ reducing sodium since 2005, but has joined other food giants including Kraft, ConAgra and Unilever in making public its sodium reduction plans.
General Mills said it has already successfully cut sodium in several of its products, citing a 16 percent reduction for Cheerios and Honey Nut Cheerios, a 25 percent reduction for some Progresso soups, and a 36 percent reduction for its Chex snack mix products.