scone, flour, salt

Should we be worried about the nutritional content of scones?

A scone is the cornerstone of the Devon cream tea, or a coffeeshop morning snack. We might even choose the plain scone rather than cheese or fruit with the assumption that it is a healthy choice. But what really is the nutritional content of scones, and are they as healthy as we like to think?

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What is the nutritional content of scones?

A study in Northern Ireland investigated the nutritional content of scones produced in bakeries and coffee shops. They sampled a range of plain, fruit, and luxury scones produced on the premises and found that there was a large variety both in the content and the sizes of the scones available.

The weight (portion size) of the scones varies hugely and is the most important factor in determining the calorific value of the scone. In simple terms, the bigger the scone, the more calories it contains. In the survey, scones weighed on average 129g, but the largest weighed up to 233g. The average nutritional information scores are given in the table below, along with some alternatives for comparison.

Weight
(g)
Energy
(kcal)
Fat
(g)
Saturates
(g)
Sugar
(g)
Salt
(g)
1 Plain Scone12038411.14.714.22.1
1 Fruit Scone13241410.74.4241.7
1 Luxury Scone13743113.36211.8
2 Slices White Bread801921.80.420.8
2 Slices Brown Bread801862.40.42.40.8
1 Croissant411658.55.42.50.3
Comparison of the nutritional content of scones with other ‘morning snacks’ (per portion)

When compared to the Recommended Daily Intake (RDI) for an adult even the average plain scone would be high enough in salt to be labelled red in the traffic light system that you may be familiar with when choosing pre-packaged foods in the supermarket. The nutritional content of scones means that they should be considered a treat, rather than a staple.

Energy
(kcal)
Fat
(g)
Saturates
(g)
Sugar
(g)
Salt
(g)
1 Plain Scone38411.14.714.22.1
Adult Male25009731336
Adult Female20007824276
Government Dietary Recommendations from Public Health England
jam, scones, scone, fruit
nutritional content of scones varies widely

What does this mean for consumers?

If you want to be able to make healthy choices, the first step is to be aware of the portion size. A single scone could vary from 80-230g in weight and so its calorific content could be from around 250-750kcal. Bear in mind that a traditional cream tea could well include two scones and therefore double the calorie value.

Think about the additions that you make to the scone when you eat. If you add butter, cream or jam to a large scone you might consume over 1000kcal in one sitting which is half of an adult’s female’s RDI. Consider lower fat and sugar options, and don’t feel the need to eat every last scraping of cream!

If nutritional information is displayed, such as on pre-packaged food, use it to make informed choices.

scone, flour, salt

What does it mean for bakeries and other small producers?

If you are making scones from scratch, you have the opportunity to alter the nutritional content and help people make healthier choices. The simplest way to reduce the calorific content is to reduce the portion size. Consider using a smaller cutter for all your scones, or offer customers a range of sizes to choose from.

Consider reducing the salt content of the scones that you produce. When considering the nutritional content of scones you may find it useful to reference the government guidance for recommended quantities of salt, sugar and calories (See page 23). Scones fall into the category of ‘Morning goods’.

Consider giving calorific and nutritional information at point of sale to help customers make informed choices. The Food Standards Agency have a free tool called MenuCal to help you to calculate calories per portion, and in Northern Ireland you could also sign up to the ‘Calorie Wise’ scheme.

The survey results demonstrated that there were a wide range of nutritional content of scones, and a range of sizes available. This demonstrates a customer acceptance of smaller scones , and those with lower fat, sugar and salt content. This should reassure you if you are considering taking steps to improve the healthiness of your offering that there is a customer base to support these changes.

To find out more you could read the full report on the nutritional content of scones from the Food Standards Agency. Or, perhaps you work in a bakery or catering environment and would like to learn more about preparing food safely using iQualifi’s online level 2 in Food Safety and Hygiene.

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