Public Health England (PHE) has published a report following a review of commercially available baby foods and drinks targeted towards children up to 36 months of age.
The report titled 'Foods and drinks aimed at infants and young children: evidence and opportunities for action' indicated several discrepancies between national infant feeding advice and the manner in which some commercial baby foods are marketed or labelled.
Some key findings from the report were as follows:
- Certain foods marketed as healthy snacks are loaded with high amounts of sugar.
- The practice of sweet snacking is being encouraged.
- Solid foods are often introduced before the age recommended in the official advice due to misleading product labelling and marketing.
- Certain product names do not align with the balance of ingredients.
- Not all products provide clear feeding instructions.
Recommendations in the review for the food industry and government include the following:
- Improving the nutritional content of products.
- Ensuring that products are marketed and labelled in a clear, consistent and honest manner.
- Ensuring that sugar-rich products are labelled as unsuitable for eating between meals.
- Curbing the use of implied health claims on baby food products.
- Implementing a periodic survey of early years feeding practices to strengthen the evidence.
- Prioritising consumer awareness campaigns pertaining to early years feeding.
Dr Alison Tedstone, Chief Nutritionist at PHE, said: "Early years feeding is crucial in shaping future taste preferences and healthy habits. The baby and toddler food industry must be careful not to break the trust of parents."