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Over 200 branded food items for babies and toddlers fail to meet WHO nutrition standards, warns study… so is YOUR child’s on the list?

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Over 200 branded food items for babies and toddlers fail to meet WHO nutrition standards, warns study… so is YOUR child’s on the list?




More than 200 branded food products aimed at UK babies and toddlers fail to meet World Health Organization nutrition and marketing standards, an international study has found.

Two-thirds of products intended for youngsters aged six months to three years from Heinz, Nestle, Danone, Hipp, Hero and Hain Celestial contained excessive sugar, salt or calories.

The rest were found to be marketed misleadingly, such as snacks, purees, cereals and ready meals with few nutrients being labelled as ‘healthy’.

Out of 1,297 products assessed internationally, including 218 sold in UK supermarkets, none were considered suitable for promotion for consumption to children.

Out of 1,297 products assessed internationally, including 218 sold in UK supermarkets, none were considered suitable for promotion for consumption to children. Pictured, one of the  products that failed to meet WHO nutrition and marketing standards: Heinz Peach Multigrain Porridge For Babies From 7 Months Onwards by Kraft Heinz
The brands studied own more than 53 per cent of the market share. The UK has the second-largest number of such products after Italy. Pictured, one of the products that failed to meet WHO nutrition and marketing standards: Ellas Kitchen Summer Pudding For Babies From 7 Months by Hain Celestial

Greg Garrett, from the global non-profit Access to Nutrition Initiative (ATNI) that carried out the research, said new regulations are needed to control nutrient composition and marketing of foods for babies and toddlers.

‘There is a concerning trend in the nutritional quality of commercial baby foods for infants and young children across multiple countries,’ he said. ‘We must ensure that the well-being of young children is not undermined any more.

‘For this, we need the industry to take appropriate action, shareholders of companies to invest responsibly, and policymakers to improve regulations.’

The brands studied own more than 53 per cent of the market share. 

The UK has the second largest number of such products after Italy.

Results varied among companies, with Kraft Heinz having the highest percentage of products meeting nutrient composition requirements, at around 42 per cent, followed by Hero at 39 per cent and Danone at 38 per cent.

The researchers said 88 per cent of Hain Celestial products sold in the UK should have a ‘high sugar’ front-of-pack warning label. 

The same was true for 60 per cent of Hero, 50 per cent of Hipp, 46 per cent of Kraft Heinz and seven per cent of Danone products.

The study said new regulations should prohibit the use of added sugars and sweeteners, limit sugar and sodium content, and outlaw misleading marketing and labelling practices.

Governments should introduce mandatory warning labels on products with high sugar levels to help parents make healthier food choices for infants and young children, it added.

The ATNI is calling for parents to be given greater support to make well-informed feeding decisions, to help end international epidemics of obesity, tooth decay, heart disease, diabetes and other conditions caused by poor eating choices.

The study said new regulations should prohibit the use of added sugars and sweeteners, limit sugar and sodium content, and outlaw misleading marketing and labelling practices. Pictured, one of the products that failed to meet WHO nutrition and marketing standards: Hipp Organic Apple And Pear For Babies From 4 Months Onwards by Hipp
WHO guidelines say babies and toddlers should not be given foods high in sugar, salt and trans fats or drinks containing sugar or non-sugar sweeteners. Pictured, one of the products that failed to meet WHO nutrition and marketing standards: Aptamil Organic Banana And Strawberry Porridge For Babies Aged 6 Months And Onwards by Danone

WHO guidelines say babies and toddlers should not be given foods high in sugar, salt and trans fats or drinks containing sugar or non-sugar sweeteners. 

They add that consumption of 100 per cent fruit juice should be ‘limited’.

Responding to the study’s findings, a spokesman for Kraft Heinz said the company was committed to ‘making high-quality, accessible food’ in line with ‘international food standards and local laws and regulations’. 

It also supports ‘the WHO’s recommendation that babies are exclusively breastfed for the first six months of life, followed by the introduction of nutritionally adequate and safe complementary foods,’ they added. 

They said: ‘We are committed to transparent communications around the nutrition of all our products, empowering consumers to make informed decisions that meet their lifestyle needs and preferences.’  

Meanwhile, a Nestlé spokesman added: ‘We share the same goals as ATNI to accelerate sustainable access to nutritious. 

‘We are also supportive of independent benchmarking which can help differentiate between practices within an industry. 

‘However, the approach taken by ATNI does not deliver these positive outcomes. The methodology adopted may unfairly penalise companies with a large portfolio.

‘Everywhere we operate, we comply with all local regulations as well as our Nestlé Policy for implementing the Code, whichever is stricter.’

A spokesman for Hero said: ‘All products marketed by Hero, including the UK, comply with local legislation regarding safety and nutritional requirements. 

‘Furthermore, Hero adheres to internal nutritional and safety standards that exceed current regulatory requirements.’

WHAT SHOULD A BALANCED DIET LOOK LIKE? 

Meals should be based on potatoes, bread, rice, pasta or other starchy carbohydrates, ideally wholegrain, according to the NHS

• Eat at least 5 portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables every day. All fresh, frozen, dried and canned fruit and vegetables count

• Base meals on potatoes, bread, rice, pasta or other starchy carbohydrates, ideally wholegrain

• 30 grams of fibre a day: This is the same as eating all of the following: 5 portions of fruit and vegetables, 2 whole-wheat cereal biscuits, 2 thick slices of wholemeal bread and large baked potato with the skin on

• Have some dairy or dairy alternatives (such as soya drinks) choosing lower-fat and lower-sugar options

• Eat some beans, pulses, fish, eggs, meat and other proteins (including 2 portions of fish every week, one of which should be oily)

• Choose unsaturated oils and spreads and consuming in small amounts

• Drink 6-8 cups/glasses of water a day

• Adults should have less than 6g of salt and 20g of saturated fat for women or 30g for men a day

Source: NHS Eatwell Guide  



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