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Ann Fernholm

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Watch Out For The Junk Food In The Baby Food Isles

Corn puffs, cheddar snacks and biscuits sweetened with juice. The amount of unhealthy food in the baby food isles has exploded. Recently, the Washington Post covered the issue. We need to let go of our beliefs that large corporate owned baby food companies want what’s best for our children. The food they produce is often both ultra-processed and highly sweetened.

Recently, there is an increasing number of votes against foods labeled as “baby food”. In June, WHO warned of the high level of sugar in baby purees. Now, the Washington Post has also written about the junk food that fills baby food shelves: Sweet excess: How the baby food industry hooks toddlers on sugar, salt and fat.

Ultra-processed Corn Snacks Are Not A Snack

All over the world, baby food companies market ultra-processed foods to babies and young children, often with misleading health messages. An example is this:

It is called “finger food“, but is ultra-processed snacks. No one should eat this everyday, especially toddlers who have  high nutritional needs in relation to their food intake.

It is time that we let go of the unveiling trust we have had in food companies. Here in Sweden, pediatricians even recommend parents to give their babies commercial baby food because it is nutritious. But when a company doing independent testing of consumer products, several years ago, released their canned food review, they concluded that it is both nutrition and energy poor. The food also often contains very little protein, probably because it is cheaper to fill the jar with water than meat and fish. In fact, a baby would need to eat a whole 5-6 cans to cover their daily energy needs.

This does not only apply to Swedish canned food. If you read the ingredient lists on Heinz jars for babies, the first ingredient is often water.

The Baby Food Industry is Strongly Lobbying

The fact that we still have a positive image of the food industry is because they are good at lobbying. For example, during the Swedish Children’s Healthcare convention in October, where people who lead Sweden’s child healthcare system met, several food companies “supported” the various exhibits where they advertised for their company.

Nestlé’s message to child health care was that they pursue “a continuous development of children’s food based on science and research”. In Spain, Nestlé also sells porridge that taste graham crackers, and squeeze pouches that taste like cake and Oreos.

The company Hipp claims that their philosophy is that ” growing children should eat the best food” while also selling the ultra-sweet squeeze pouches.

What Hipp thinks is “porridge” consists largely of juice from juice concentrate and over 40 percent of all calories come from sugar.

However, a big player is the British brand Organix, which specializes in selling snacks, cakes and sweets to babies and young children.

The packaging says “no junk promise” even though the food is ultra-processed.

Well, dear parents. It’s time we stop turning a blind eye to the baby food companies. Spread this to all the parents you know, to your pediatrician and everyone at your child’s preschool. It’s time to boycott the junk that companies want to hook our toddlers on. Instead, the children need nutritious food, prepared from the foundation of natural ingredients. Good food is a shortcut to long-term health.

This is a guest post. The opinions expressed are the writer’s own.

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