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2013 Unfortified breakfast cereal analytical program


Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) has analytical data for a limited range of breakfast cereals. The majority of the data FSANZ has is based on a small number of popular products fortified with a range of vitamins and minerals.

Because of this, nutrient profiles for other fortified breakfast cereals consumed during the 2011–12 National Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey (NNPAS) component of the 2011–13 Australian Health Survey (AHS) were developed based on specific fortified lines that required calculations with adjustments to account for brand-specific levels of fortification. For unfortified breakfast cereals, analytical data for unprocessed cereal grains such as rice, wheat, bran or barley, was used initially to derive levels of vitamins and minerals. However, confidence in this approach is limited because data concerning the effects on vitamins and minerals (of processing a raw grain into a breakfast cereal) is insufficient.

In May 2013, FSANZ undertook a small analytical program to provide baseline nutrient data for a range of unfortified breakfast cereals to use to verify FSANZ's approach for generating nutrient profiles for breakfast cereals consumed during the NNPAS.


FSANZ selected nine types of unfortified breakfast cereals for nutrient analysis that are common components of fortified breakfast cereals regularly reported in the NNPAS. Between four and ten samples were purchased for each type of unfortified breakfast cereal. If more than one sample of the same brand was purchased, different batch codes were selected. FSANZ purchased all samples in Canberra on 16 and 17 May 2013.

Table 1 Unfortified breakfast cereals selected for analysis

Unfortified breakfast cereal type
Number of samples purchased
Number of brands/varieties
Bran flakes 4 1
Corn flakes 8 4
Mixed grain flakes with honey 8 1
Oats, rolled 10 9
Oats, flavoured 8 5
Puffed wheat 8 2
Rice bubbles 8 6
Wheat biscuits 8 2
Unprocessed wheat bran 8 7

Preparation and analysis

FSANZ photographed the samples before sending them to the National Measurement Institute (NMI) where they were received on 18 May 2013. The NMI homogenised and combined samples to form one composite sample for each type of breakfast cereal for analysis. The nine different composites were analysed without further preparation or cooking.

The NMI conducted the analyses at their Melbourne laboratories using methods of analysis that have been accredited by the National Association of Testing Authorities.


FSANZ validated the NMI results using information from analytical results previously obtained by FSANZ and food labels (ingredient lists and nutrition information panels), where available.

Some unexpected results were identified. For example, all breakfast cereals analysed contained detectable levels of folic acid, despite being labelled as unfortified. Some breakfast cereals also showed higher than expected levels of iodine. Where uncertainty was present, the values were not used. 

For the complete set of results generated from this program refer to Appendix 8 - Unfortified breakfast cereals analytical program - data tables (44 Kb Excel).

Updates to the food nutrient database

FSANZ used the analytical results from the 2013 program to review its existing data for both unfortified and fortified breakfast cereals. Where appropriate, a number of breakfast cereal records were updated. In particular:

  • The existing data for unfortified breakfast cereals was replaced with the analytical data for those foods. Where high iodine values were questioned the values were not incorporated into the nutrient database for the AHS, so as to not overestimate the contribution of breakfast cereals to iodine intake.
  • Some of the existing data for fortified breakfast cereals was replaced with the analytical data for the same grain type. Updates focussed on nutrients that were not added as fortificants.


The results of the unfortified breakfast cereal analytical program have given FSANZ an improved level of confidence about the composition of commonly consumed breakfast cereals and FSANZ's approach for developing nutrient profiles for breakfast cereals reported as consumed during the NNPAS. The results will also feed into future releases of the FSANZ reference database NUTTAB.


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