Messy Monkeys Review

The Additive Free Kids community have requested I review the Messy Monkey range for a long time.  A recent Messy Monkeys ad I saw in a Coles magazine reminded me that I was long overdue to review these products. It is very rare that I go to Coles, or pick up one of these magazines.  I do make a special point of visiting the big supermarkets to keep my finger on the pulse and see what’s happening.  Especially around Back to School time. 

I will start by saying, we need to look past the beautiful marketing. We need to look at the substance of a product before we buy it. You need to flip the packet every time!  Even if it is a product that you buy all the time. Ingredients change.

Look past the pretty ad

The Messy Monkey ad was a beautiful, fresh, clean ad, appealing to all school mums. The ad shows two clean healthy lunchboxes. They contain wholefood options, fresh fruit, bottle of water or a home made smoothie.

These lunchboxes are paired with two Messy Monkey products. School mums are told that they are “Perfect to pop into lunchboxes”. Mums are also told that they can find these products in “Health” Food aisle.

Mums would look at this ad and think, wow, these must be great healthy options! The ad looks clean and fresh, its positioned next to a healthy lunch box. We can buy it from the health food aisle. Its got to be good right?

On a side note, the foods you find in the “HEALTH FOOD AISLE” aren’t always healthy.

There are plenty of products that I wouldn’t touch in the health food aisle. Gluten free products spring to mind. They are some of the WORST additive laden products you will find in the supermarket.

Ok…so back to Messy Monkeys. Lets look at the ones that are in this ad and whether I would buy them for my kids.

Wholegrain Bites

“Made with the hidden goodness of sorghum and quinoa to deliver 11% of kids daily fibre needs.

“With no artificial colours, flavours or preservatives our Messy Monkeys bites are the perfect snack for your Messy Monkey to have more fun.” “No palm oil. No added MSG. No nasties”

Let’s take a look at the ingredients (as displayed on their website) and see if this stacks up:

Burger flavour

Flour mix (whole grain sorghum (24%). Maize rice, whole grain quinoa (12%), sunflower oil, chickpea fibre, salt, natural flavour, sugar, vegetable powders (onion, garlic, tomato), emulsifier (sunflower lecithin)

Pizza flavour

Flour mix (whole grain sorghum (24%), Maize, Rice, Whole Grain Quinoa (12%)), Canola oil, Chickpea fibre, salt, sugar, vegetable powders (onion, garlic, tomato), herbs and spices, corn starch, natural flavours, paprika extract, emulsifier (sunflower lecithin)

Cheese flavour

Flour mix (Whole Grain Sorghum (24%), Maize, Rice, Whole Grain Quinoa (12%), Sunflower Oil, Chickpea Fibre, Salt, Natural Flavour, Onion Powder, Cream Powder, Emulsifier (Sunflower Lecithin)

When looking at these ingredients, I would like you to think about, how processed is this product?

Let’s look again at these claims:

“No palm oil.

No added MSG.

No nasties”

No palm oilyes that is correct.

These products do contain canola and sunflower oil though.

Sunflower oil – we don’t know if this is cold pressed / expeller processed or if it’s a chemical based process.

The Freedom Foods website states that in the Australia’s Own Organic range, the sunflower oil is cold pressed or expeller pressed.

There is no mention about the other brands in the group. If it is a chemical based process I want to avoid it. I prefer to avoid canola oil too (more on that later).

No added MSG – this is correct.

If there was any MSG it would need to be listed.

I don’t know what ingredients are in natural flavours though. There could be ingredients in here that could have the same impact as MSG.

We just don’t know.

I don’t know what herbs and spices are in this product either. Often you can find nasty ingredients hiding in the term ‘herbs and spices”.

Every time I question manufacturers about the ingredients of flavours (natural or otherwise) I am told the same thing over and over. There is intellectual property protection regarding that ingredient. They are not required to divulge anything further They are right. They are protected by the law.


I ask you – what wholefood natural ingredients requires intellectual protection?   The original ingredient may have started from a natural source. I can bet you that it has undergone a LOT of processing and it no longer resembles that natural source.

If a manufacturer is unable to be transparent about an ingredient in their product, is this something that you want to feed to your kids?

Kids that are sensitive to additives will often react to natural flavours.

It is best to avoid any products that contain any flavours. The quickest way to get rid of these flavours from our food supply is to avoid buying any products that contain ANY flavours. Flavours indicate that the product is highly processed, despite the packaging and marketing claims.

Let’s move on to the popcorn range:


Lightly salted

Popcorn, canola oil, sea salt.

Lightly sweet and salty

Popcorn, canola oil, raw sugar, sea salt

Definitely much cleaner ingredients than the Whole Grain bites and less processed. My preference is to avoid canola oil..

What is the problem with canola oil?

You need to understand how canola oil is made. That is a whole blog in itself. To keep it brief, canola oil is usually made using chemical solvents. These chemical solvents are used to extract the oil from canola seeds. Further chemicals are used in the refining process. Then there is a bleaching process that happens too to remove the smell. A chemically derived oil doesn’t smell too nice!

Not an ingredient that I want my popcorn popped in. I would save some money and pop your own popcorn at home and ditch the canola oil!

Snack bars

The Freedom website states “ Messy Monkey Snack Bars are made with real fruit and legumes, and have no artificial flavours, colours or sugars – no nasties!)

Let’s take a look at the ingredients:

Strawberry and apple snack bar

Dried fruit (44%) (Apple (24%), Raisins (Raisins, Sunflower oil), Strawberries (2.6%)), Soluble corn fibre, navy bean flour, pepitas, canola oil.

Mango and apple snack bar

Dried fruit (42%) (Dried apple (19%), Raisins (Raisins, Sunflower oil), Mango (8%)), Soluble corn fibre, navy bean flour, sunflower seeds, canola oil

I had questions whether the fruit was preservative free or not. I couldn’t find any information on the website. One of our trusty Additive Free Kids Community members was able to share a pic and the box states that the fruit used are GM and sulphite free fruit which is great!

Another ingredient that I hadn’t seen before was soluble corn fibre. Interesting! A quick google search will tell you that soluble corn fibre is also called maltodextrin or resistant maltodextrin.

For those that follow the blog know that I am not a fan of maltodextrin. Maltodextrin is a partially hydrolysed starch that is often used by manufacturers to boost the fibre content of products. Maltodextrin is also used as a bulking agent in sugar substitutes. It helps thicken products, prevent crystallisation and help bind products together.

Why do we want to avoid maltodextrin?

Maltodextrin can:

– spike blood sugar,

– suppresses the growth of probiotics,

– often made from genetically modified corn,

– has no nutritional value,

– may cause allergic reactions or side effects.

These side effects can include gas, diarrhoea, as published in a 2013 study in the Journal of Nutritional Science and Vitaminology (1). Other reports have included skin irritations, cramping and bloating.

Not symptoms we want our little ones experiencing. My kids are very sensitive to additives. If yours are too, I recommend that you avoid maltodextrin.


So in short…the products in this ad, wouldn’t be my first choice for school lunchboxes.

Out of the options reviewed in this blog, if I had to make a choice, I would take the popcorn. It is the least processed option with the fewest ingredients. Closest to the wholefood that it came from.

It isn’t something that I would buy on a regular basis to put into the kids lunchboxes though.

Please note, there are more products in the Freedom Foods range that I haven’t reviewed. There could be other products that would be suitable for our sensitive kids. I have limited the review only to the products in this ad.

I know that we are all busy mums and sometimes we need convenient snacks to throw in lunchboxes. I know what it is like! I have 5 kids of my own. I am time poor and stretched too. 

I hear the community asking for my recommendations. I know you are seeking my recommendations on what I would buy for my kids. Stay tuned…. It is coming 🙂  If you would like to be the first to know when it is available, make sure you join the email list.  If you have enjoyed our review, please share with others that you think may like it also.

Frankie Bell is the Managing Director of Additive Free Kids, a food coach, mentor and is one of Australia’s leading activists against additives in foods.  
Frankie is a mum to 5 boys and has personal experience working through the damaging effects of additives to resolve the multiple health issues and behavioural problems in her own children.  It became Frankie’s purpose to help other families achieve the same improvements for their families. 
These changes can be overwhelming, especially for time poor parents, Frankie has done all the hard work for families to ensure they have access to additive free food, anytime, anywhere.    Additive Free Kids specialises in assisting families to live healthy lives free from additives.  See how you can work together with Frankie here.