More than 200 branded food items for babies and toddlers do not meet WHO nutritional standards, a study warns… is YOUR child’s on the list?

More than 200 branded food products aimed at British babies and toddlers do not meet the World Health Organization’s nutritional and marketing standards, an international investigation has found.

Two-thirds of products intended for young people aged six months to three years from Heinz, Nestlé, Danone, Hipp, Hero and Hain Celestial contain excessive amounts of sugar, salt or calories.

The rest were found to be misleadingly marketed, such as snacks, purees, breakfast cereals and ready-made meals with few nutrients that were labeled as ‘healthy’.

Of the 1,297 internationally assessed products, including 218 sold in UK supermarkets, none were deemed suitable for promotion for consumption by children.

Of the 1,297 internationally assessed products, including 218 sold in UK supermarkets, none were deemed suitable for promotion for consumption by children. In the photo one of the products that did not meet the nutritional and marketing standards of the WHO: Heinz Peach Multigrain Porridge for babies from 7 months by Kraft Heinz

The brands examined have more than 53 percent of the market share.  Britain has the largest number of such products after Italy.  In the photo one of the products that did not meet the nutritional and marketing standards of the WHO: Ellas Kitchen Summer pudding for babies from 7 months from Hain Celestial

The brands examined have more than 53 percent of the market share. Britain has the largest number of such products after Italy. In the photo one of the products that did not meet the nutritional and marketing standards of the WHO: Ellas Kitchen Summer pudding for babies from 7 months from Hain Celestial

Greg Garrett of the global nonprofit Access to Nutrition Initiative (ATNI), which conducted the research, said new regulations are needed to control nutrient composition and the marketing of foods to babies and toddlers.

“There is a worrying trend in the nutritional quality of commercial baby foods for infants and young children in several countries,” he said. ‘We must ensure that the well-being of young children is no longer undermined.

‘To do this, we need the industry to take appropriate action, company shareholders to invest responsibly and policymakers to improve regulation.’

The brands examined have more than 53 percent of the market share.

Britain has the largest number of such products after Italy.

Results varied by company, with Kraft Heinz having the highest percentage of products meeting nutrient composition requirements at approximately 42 percent, followed by Hero at 39 percent and Danone at 38 percent.

The researchers said that 88 percent of Hain Celestial products sold in Britain should have a ‘high sugar content’ warning label on the front of the pack.

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

According to the study, new regulations should ban the use of added sugars and sweeteners, limit sugar and sodium content and prohibit misleading marketing and labeling practices.

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

The ATNI is calling on parents to get more support to make informed nutritional decisions, to end international epidemics of obesity, tooth decay, heart disease, diabetes and other conditions caused by poor eating choices.

According to the study, new regulations should ban the use of added sugars and sweeteners, limit sugar and sodium content and prohibit misleading marketing and labeling practices.  In the photo one of the products that did not meet the nutritional and marketing standards of the WHO: Hipp organic apple and pear for babies from 4 months from Hipp

According to the study, new regulations should ban the use of added sugars and sweeteners, limit sugar and sodium content and prohibit misleading marketing and labeling practices. In the photo one of the products that did not meet the nutritional and marketing standards of the WHO: Hipp organic apple and pear for babies from 4 months from 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.  In the photo one of the products that did not meet the nutritional and marketing standards of the WHO: Aptamil organic banana and strawberry porridge for babies from 6 months from 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. In the photo one of the products that did not meet the nutritional and marketing standards of the WHO: Aptamil organic banana and strawberry porridge for babies from 6 months from 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 percent fruit juice should be “limited.”

In response to the study’s findings, a Kraft Heinz spokesperson said the company is committed to “making accessible, high-quality food” in accordance with “international food standards and local laws and regulations.”

It also supports “the WHO recommendation that infants be exclusively breastfed for the first six months of life, followed by the introduction of nutritionally adequate and safe complementary foods,” she added.

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

Meanwhile, a Nestlé spokesperson added: “We share the same goals as ATNI to accelerate sustainable access to nutritious products.

‘We are also in favor of independent benchmarking, which can help distinguish between practices within a sector.

‘However, ATNI’s approach does not yield these positive results. The methodology used can unfairly disadvantage companies with a large portfolio.

“Wherever we operate, we comply with all local regulations, as well as our Nestlé Code Implementation Policy, whichever is more stringent.”

A Hero spokesperson said: ‘All products Hero markets, including in the UK, comply with local legislation regarding safety and nutritional requirements.

“In addition, Hero adheres to internal nutritional and safety standards that go beyond current regulatory requirements.”

WHAT SHOULD A BALANCED DIET LOOK LIKE?

Meals should be based on potatoes, bread, rice, pasta or other starchy carbohydrates, preferably whole grains, according to the NHS

Meals should be based on potatoes, bread, rice, pasta or other starchy carbohydrates, preferably whole grains, according to the NHS

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

• Basic meals on potatoes, bread, rice, pasta or other starchy carbohydrates, preferably whole wheat

• 30 grams of fiber per day: This is the same as eating all of the following: 5 servings of fruits and vegetables, 2 whole-grain cereal cookies, 2 thick slices of whole-grain bread, and a large baked potato with the skin still on

• Provide some dairy or dairy alternatives (such as soy drinks) and choose lower fat and lower sugar options

• Eat some beans, legumes, fish, eggs, meat and other proteins (including 2 portions of fish per week, one portion of which is fatty)

• Choose unsaturated oils and spreads and consume them in small quantities

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

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

Source: NHS Eatwell Guide