Chocolate biscuits are the most popular biscuit type in the UK. In our chocolate guide we have detailed the many ethical problems of chocolate and said that, as a minimum, companies need to source their cocoa from certified suppliers.
But, in the world of biscuits, very few companies are taking this responsibility seriously. In fact, our research has shown that only Against the Grain, Island bakery, Biona, Doves Farm and Traidcraft source 100% certified cocoa. The remaining companies in this guide have been marked down under our Workers’ Rights category because of the well-known prevalence of child labour in the industry.
High in sugar
The big news when it comes to sugar is the UK’s long-awaited sugar tax, which came into force in April 2018 for soft drinks. Money raised from this levy will supposedly be channelled directly into funding school sports and breakfast clubs. Although there are no guarantees that the sugar tax will be effective in the UK, similar taxes in Mexico have seen a 10% decline in soft drinks consumption in just two years.
Its introduction has prompted sugar and health campaign groups, such as Action on Sugar, to call for a widening of the tax to other high-sugar foods such as biscuits and sweets.
The NHS recommends a maximum daily sugar intake of 30 g (7 teaspoons) for those aged 11 and over and, with most biscuits containing 3-5 g each, you can understand why they have been targeted. Such is the health concern surrounding biscuits, Diabetes UK have dedicated an entire page on their website to their health impacts.
For children aged 7 to 10, the recommended maximum daily sugar intake is 24 g, and for children aged 4 to 6 it is 19 g. In other words, five biscuits can exceed a 10-year-old’s full daily sugar allowance.
The NHS has this advice: “Read the nutritional information on food labels to see how much sugar the food contains. The nearer to the beginning of the ingredient list the sugar is, the more sugar the product contains.
“Look for the ‘carbohydrates (of which sugars)’ figure in the nutrition label to see how much sugar the product contains for every 100 g:
- more than 22.5 g of total sugars per 100 g is high.
- 5 g of total sugars or less per 100 g is low.
- If the amount of sugars per 100 g is between these figures, it’s a medium amount of sugars.”
- The UK’s most popular biscuits, McVitie’s Chocolate Digestives, contain 29.5 g per 100 g and are therefore high in sugar.