Easter's chocolate excesses anger nutritionist

BY KEITH LYNCH
Last updated 05:00 11/04/2009
KIRK HARGREAVES/The Press
EASTER TREATS: Paige Ahlbrandt, 6, is thrilled with a chocolate Easter egg containing Moro bars.

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The sale of one-kilogram Easter eggs that contain four times the fat a child should eat in a day has been slammed as "a bastardisation of Easter".

The What a Pig hollow chocolate eggs, weighing 1kg, are sold by The Warehouse in their hundreds each year. The Hamilton manufacturer, Waikato Valley Chocolates, said the eggs, which contain 22,400 kilojoules of energy, were particularly popular with teenagers.

The Warehouse was asked for comment but did not respond.

But Canterbury District Health Board public health nutritionist Bronwen King said the availability of big eggs was exploiting the Easter tradition.

"It's a bastardisation of Easter," she said. "Companies are looking to cash in on an opportunity to push their products."

The health board has released a table showing the nutritional breakdown of eight Easter eggs, including creme eggs. These 40-gram eggs have 1.5 teaspoons of fat, 6.5 teaspoons of sugar and have a 762kJ energy hit. A 265g egg containing two Moro bars has 8176kJ of energy about a day's worth of energy and 19 teaspoons of fat and 55 teaspoons of sugar.

A 25g marshmallow egg contains 392kJ of energy, half a teaspoon of fat and 1.5 teaspoons of sugar.

King was particularly critical of the sale of 1kg Easter eggs, which have 60 teaspoons of fat and 146 teaspoons of sugar.

She said that for typical 10-year-olds, the 1kg egg had four times the fat they should eat in a day and three times their total energy needs. "And these kilojoules are almost completely devoid of useful nutrients."

Her advice was to choose small marshmallow eggs rather than large hollow eggs, and have it as part of a balanced diet.

A Cadbury spokesman said: "Our products can be enjoyed as part of a balanced diet and balanced lifestyle, and we recommend all food should be consumed in appropriate amounts related to an individual's ability to balance their intake of calories with their output."

The top five Easter products in New Zealand are:

1. The Cadbury Creme Egg.

2. Cadbury large foiled marshmallow egg singles.

3. Cadbury six-pack marshmallow eggs.

4. Cadbury large egg and Buttons casket.

5. The Cadbury Great Bunny.

EASTER EGG HUNT SAFETY TIPS

The traditional Easter Sunday Easter egg hunt should not last more than two hours, says a food-safety expert. New Zealand Food Safety Authority microbiologist Roger Cook is warning of the perils of the hunt for painted boiled eggs.

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"If you use real hard-boiled eggs instead of foil-wrapped chocolate eggs for Easter egg hunts, and plan to eat them after, make sure they are clean and uncracked so bacteria can't get in," he said.

"Use food-grade dye for any decoration, and hide eggs in places that are free from dirt and pets.

"Decorated eggs should be chilled in the fridge until just before the hunt, and the total time for hiding and hunting eggs should be no longer than two hours. If you find any eggs the next day, don't eat them; throw them away."

- The Press

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