Health campaigners have called for a crackdown on misleading nutrition claims on baby and toddler pouches after they were found to contain up to four teaspoons of sugar.
Action on Sugar analyzed nearly 100 breakfast products for babies and toddlers and found that Ella’s Kitchen Banana, Apple & Blueberry Baby Rice contained 14.5g of sugar per packet, the equivalent of four teaspoons.
This was followed by Ella’s Kitchen Banana Baby Brekkie, containing 13.6g of sugar per serving, and Ella’s Kitchen Bananas, Apricots and Baby Rice, with 13.5g.
All products in the survey carried nutrition or health claims on their packaging and 86% used a “no added sugar” or “only natural sugars” claim, despite many added sugars in the form of fruit or vegetable juices , concentrates, purees and powders. .
The Heinz By Nature cream porridge contained regular sugar, but carried the claims “only natural ingredients” as well as unauthorized “naturally sourced sugar”, according to Action on Sugar.
Babease Simply Smooth Avocado Breakfast with Yogurt, Spinach and Oats, containing 3.5g of sugar per serving, was the only product studied to use vegetables rather than fruit as a flavoring.
HiPP Organic Banana Yogurt Breakfast, containing 6.9g of sugar per 100g, uses approximately 40% less banana than Ella’s Kitchen Banana Baby Brekkie, containing 13.6g of sugar per 100g.
A survey of 1,004 parents by Action on Sugar found that 87% would find it helpful to see added sugar in baby and infant foods – including those from processed fruit – displayed on packages.
In 2016, the government challenged the food industry to reduce the overall sugar content of certain food categories by 20% by 2020, but did not include baby and toddler products.
Action on Sugar calls for the complete removal of ‘misleading’ nutrition and health claims on baby and toddler foods and drinks and urges Health Secretary Steve Barclay to issue and enforce ‘overdue’ trade guidelines on baby food and drink.
Graham MacGregor, Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine at Queen Mary University of London and Chairman of Action on Sugar, said: “It is outrageous that some food companies are allowed to sell their high sugar products to parents with very young children when they are aware that babies and toddlers should not consume added sugar at all.
“An unhealthy diet high in saturated fat, salt and sugar and low in fruit and vegetables is the leading cause of death and disability worldwide and costs the UK alone over £100billion a year. year.
“Our children should not have to suffer unnecessarily from this. Manufacturers should act responsibly and commit to reducing sugar, salt and calories instead of forcing unhealthy products with misleading nutritional claims on well-meaning parents.
The British Dental Association (BDA) has also called on the government to ‘eliminate misleading marketing claims from manufacturers of children’s food’ in response to the Action on Sugar inquiry.
Earlier this year, a BDA study of 109 baby sachets aimed at children under 12 months found that more than a quarter contained more sugar by volume than Coke, parents of infants as young as four months being marketed with sachets containing the equivalent of up to 150% of the sugar levels found in the soft drink.
BDA Chairman Eddie Crouch said: ‘The food industry is walking parents around the garden, making high sugar products ‘healthy options’.
“No sugar added” claims make no sense when toddlers get four teaspoons for breakfast.
“Tooth decay is the number one reason for hospitalization in young children, and the government cannot remain passive. Action here is a prerequisite if we are ever to turn the tide on entirely preventable diseases.
Heinz said, “Heinz Creamed Porridge is properly labeled. The claim “naturally sourced sugar” is a statement of fact and not a nutrition claim. This claim does not imply “low sugar”, “sugar free” or “no added sugar”.