Wendyl Wants to Know: Creamy cheese has plenty of processing
Le Snak Cheese Dip with Crispbread
$3.92 per six-pack - 65c each
Despite its French-inspired name Le Snak is actually unique to the Australian and New Zealand food industry.
It was invented in 1988 and took advantage of the trend at the time of placing "le" in front of a brand name such as Le Spec and Le Tan.
Some people may remember the TV advertisement which went something like "Le Sunday stroll with le family and this is Le Snak, le small pack ..."
The convenience of popping a pack in your handbag or a school lunch took off and Le Snak has been a popular supermarket purchase ever since.
It claims on the packet to have no artificial flavours or colours and that it is a good source of calcium. It is also "Le Yuuuummmm!"
Let's see what is in it:
Cheddar cheese (49 per cent)
This is normal cheddar cheese, or mild, as it is marketed in the supermarkets.
It needs to be processed to take on a creamy texture for dipping the crackers into and also to make it last on the shelf with no refrigeration.
The use-by date on my product was four months after the date of purchase so to get a bit of cheese to last that long out of the fridge takes some doing.
Technically the label should really tell us that butter is made out of cream, water and salt.
These are the proteins and carbohydrates found in milk after dehydration.
(170, 339, 452)
170 is calcium carbonate or chalk, 339 is sodium phosphates and 452 is potassium meplymetaphosphate which are all okay and will be in the cheese spread to keep it stable on the shelf and to emulsify the oil and water in the spread.
This is nisin, which is an antibiotic produced by milk bacteria and commonly used in cheese as a preservative.
Wholemeal wheat flour, white flour
This is a mix of wholemeal and white flour as you would use in baking.
Malt extract (barley)
Barley malt extract is used mainly in beer breweries and is a good source of minerals such as calcium, potassium, magnesium and phosphorous. In the old days children would be fed this by the spoonful for their health. It's probably in here for its flavour.
Not a high level of sugar this far down the ingredients list. One serving of biscuits with the cheese will give you 1.4g of sugar.
Emulsifier (322,(soy)), antioxidant (307)
No mention of the specific oil here but it does have lecithin (322) in it and a-Tocopheral which is vitamin E normally found in vegetable oils, so I'm not sure if this had been added to the oil or we are just being told it is in there.
This is extracted from the wheat seed with bran when it is refined into white flour. It is great for your health with good levels of vitamin E, folic acid, phosphorous, thiamine, zinc and magnesium. Often it is added to food to increase fibre, but there is no listing on the nutrition panel for fibre, so it must in here to increase the nutrition of the cracker.
These come from the opium poppy and are used in many cuisines around the world. They work well in cakes and crackers like these.
This is dried milk, added in here for flavour I presume.
These are baking soda and ammonium bicarbonate. Both are in this food to make the crackers rise in cooking.
This is a little high in fat with 5g in each serve which is about a teaspoon.
I have no problem with these crackers, but wonder why you would want to eat cheese which has been so modified with additives to make it creamy and long-lasting.
Kids love crackers and cheese and while it is easy to grab one of these convenient packs and throw it in the lunchbox, does it really take that much longer to slice a bit of cheese and put it in a container with some crackers? You can even buy ready-sliced unprocessed cheese if you want to miss out the slicing step.
You'll save money because I reckon three wholemeal crackers and 11g of cheese ( half the weight of this product) will cost you about 38c, instead of 65c for each of these packs.
You'll also reduce the additive load by seven ingredients and let's look at the packaging. Do we really need those little plastic containers clogging up our landfills?
* It takes seven ingredients to process the cheese to ensure that it lasts four months on the shelf without refrigeration.
* You can save on additives as well as cash by substituting real cheese with bought crackers.
* Each serve contains about 1 teaspoon of fat